Football: Fowler strikes to win action replay

Liverpool 4 Newcastle United 3

Liverpool moved one point behind Manchester United at the top of the Premiership last night, but if ever a match showed why their burgeoning, bountiful talents might not earn them the prize they most desire this season this was it.

They routed Newcastle and yet, for all their swagger, for all their ample dominance, they had to rely on a goal by Robbie Fowler deep into injury time to take all three points. Such carelessness costs championships.

The final minutes were scarcely credible. Liverpool were 3-1 up and creating chances at will. It was too easy. The match was won. Then Newcastle, who had been abject, got two goals in the final four minutes through Faustino Asprilla and Warren Barton which made the unthinkable possible. Or it was until Fowler struck to spare acute home embarrassment. The scoreline was identical to last year's thriller, the circumstances somewhat different.

"To even think about having to score a last-minute winner was ridiculous," Roy Evans, the Liverpool manager, said. "A scoreline of 3-0 would have been a far fairer reflection of the match."

The first 25 minutes hardly rested naturally with the climax. The crowd bayed encouragement but the players seemed oblivious to it. Liverpool prefer patience to brag, and at times they can dally on the edge of the penalty area for an eternity without making a meaningful thrust into it.

Newcastle, content to sit back and strike on the break, were more than happy to watch their opponents pass themselves into cul-de-sacs, leaving Asprilla isolated up front in the hope he might make a meal out of a morsel. The plan appeared to be working until Liverpool destroyed it with a sudden explosive surge.

Jamie Redknapp had barely been able to judge the weight or direction of a pass, but his 40-yard ball to Jason McAteer provided a sudden switch of direction that laid Newcastle's left flank bare, and as the visitors scrambled to cover, McAteer used the space to hit a low pass across the face of the area. Fowler moved towards and then left the ball and Steve McManaman, following in behind, arced an exquisite shot beyond the dive of Shaka Hislop.

The next goal arrived while Newcastle were still trying to fathom what had gone wrong. McManaman, a bewildering wonder of twisting limbs all night, slipped a pass beyond the visiting rearguard and Fowler, brimming with menace, crashed a shot against the far post. The ball might have gone anywhere but it arrived like an invitation at Patrik Berger's feet and he passed into the empty net.

Fowler had played a part in both goals and his reward came after 42 minutes. Redknapp, suddenly able to find gaps where none appeared to exist, delivered another precise pass and Fowler gave Hislop no chance with a low shot delivered as defenders snapped at his feet.

Newcastle were well and truly deflated and a cameo played out on the side of the pitch seemed to be summing up their night. A visiting supporter, thoroughly disgusted, made his way along the touchline and threw his replica shirt at their manager, Kenny Dalglish. He was escorted away by stewards, his progress marked by boos from the black and white hordes, their disapproval not aimed at the protester.

He missed an extraordinary climax. Liverpool were rampant, carving opportunity after opportunity, so that even when Keith Gillespie wriggled past several half-hearted challenges and shot low through the arms of the tardy David James after 70 minutes it seemed unlikely to matter.

It was a wholly misleading impression. A mistake by Redknapp gave David Ginola possession on the left with four minutes remaining and his 60-yard pass bewildered Liverpool's defenders. They dithered, Asprilla nipped in and flicked the ball over the advancing James.

Anfield gasped in disbelief. But worse was to follow. Another long ball was won in the air by Barton and Asprilla's chasing resulted in the ball ricocheting back to him. Barton's shot went through at least one pair of legs and then trickled, almost tauntingly, over the line.

Liverpool looked thoroughly distressed, but they summoned one last attack down the left. Stig Inge Bjornebye launched a long cross and Fowler sprang to head past Hislop from close range. It should not have been necessary to decide it this way.

Liverpool (3-5-2): James; Kvarme, Wright, Matteo; McAteer, McManaman, Redknapp, Barnes, Bjornebye; Berger, Fowler. Substitutes not used: Collymore, Harkness, Ruddock, Kennedy, Warner (gk).

Newcastle United (4-1-4-1): Hislop; Watson, Peacock, Albert, Elliott; Batty; Gillespie, Barton, Clark (Ginola, h-t), Beardsley (Ferdinand, h- t; Crawford, 55); Asprilla. Substitutes not used: Beresford, Srnicek (gk).

Referee: D Elleray (Harrow).

Results, page 23

Top of Premiership

P W D L F A Pts

Man Utd 29 16 9 4 57 33 57

Liverpool 29 16 8 5 50 24 56

Arsenal 30 15 9 6 49 26 54

Newcastle 28 14 6 8 54 35 48

Aston Villa 29 13 7 9 35 27 46

Sheff Wed 28 11 12 5 37 32 45

Wimbledon 27 12 8 7 39 32 44

Chelsea 27 11 10 6 42 38 43

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Sport
football
News
i100
Life and Style
Virtual reality headset: 'Essentially a cinema screen that you strap to your face'
techHow virtual reality is thrusting viewers into frontline of global events and putting film-goers at the heart of the action
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness