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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world