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
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
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

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?