Ahead of Manchester United’s visit to Liverpool, TEAMtalk recalls five of their most memorable visits to Anfield, including imaginary cigars, dodgy keepers and last-minute winners.
Stormin’ Norman: Liverpool 3 United 3 – 1987-88
Though this April clash turned out to be First Division champions versus runners-up, Liverpool were streets ahead in terms of points and quality.
The Reds, who were 11 clear at the summit, recovered from going behind to Bryan Robson’s opener to open up a 3-1 lead just after half-time, with United also down to 10 men after Colin Gibson was dismissed.
Faced with Liverpool lauding it up and nothing to lose, Sir Alex Ferguson – in his first full season at United – sent on Norman Whiteside to raise some hell. With his sights set on Steve McMahon, the Northern Irishman completed his mission:
“I did exactly what the supporters dreamed themselves of doing in my position – kicked lumps out of Liverpool.”
Spurred on, United rallied and completed their comeback with Gordon Strachan slotting in an equaliser 12 minutes from time before lighting up an imaginary cigar in front of the Kop.
Liverpool still strolled to the title with a nine-point cushion, of course.
Pally’s brace, Calamity James: Liverpool 1 Man Utd 3 – 1996-97
April 1997 brought another top-of-the-table clash to Anfield, with the roles reversed. United were the dominant force and led the Premier League in what turned out to be Eric Cantona’s final season.
The Red Devils all but wrapped up a consecutive title win with a hard-fought win on Merseyside courtesy of three headed goals. Gary Pallister notched a first-half brace in front of the Kop, sandwiching a John Barnes reply, before David James wandered from his line to wave a high cross onto Andy Cole’s bonce.
United won the title by eight point while Liverpool had to make do with fourth place, finishing behind Newcastle and Arsenal on goal difference.
Kvarme’s cock up: Liverpool 1 Man Utd 3 – 1997-98
United were top of the table the following season when they returned to Anfield later that year.
Liverpool were languishing in eighth but Roy Evans’ side made life difficult for the champions. Until Bjorn Tore Kvarme’s slip allowed Cole to put United ahead six minutes after half-time.
Robbie Fowler netted an equaliser from the spot but David Beckham found the top corner with a trademark free-kick before Cole swept in from close range to seal another 3-1 triumph.
United eventually lost the title to Arsenal by a single point, while Liverpool improved to finish third.
‘He came from Uruguay…’: Liverpool 1 Man Utd 2 – 2002-03
Continuing a theme of Liverpool howlers, Jerzy Dudek took pity on Diego Forlan by gifting him an Anfield brace that United fans still sing about to this day.
The Czech keeper allowed Jamie Carragher’s back header to squirm through his hands and legs to present Forlan with an open goal. Given the Uruguayan’s form, there was no guarantee he would find it, but scoring obviously sent the striker’s confidence skyrocketing.
Just three minutes later, Forlan smashed in a second from an acute angle, rifling the ball between Dudek and his near post.
Sami Hyypia pulled one back, and in contrasting fashion to his opposite number, United keeper Fabian Barthez had to produce a world-class stop to deny Dietmar Hamann a spectacular leveller.
Fourth-placed United went on to win their 15th title – still three behind Liverpool at that point.
O’Shea’s smash and grab: Liverpool 0 Man Utd 1 – 2006-07
United reached injury time of this March affair looking to cling on for a point after Liverpool had dominated much of the game. The Premier League leaders, down to 10-men after Paul Scholes’ half-hearted attempt at sticking one on Xabi Alonso, had lost Wayne Rooney to injury and moments earlier, had to be grateful to Edwin van der Sar for denying Peter Crouch.
Ferguson’s men would have been grateful simply to keep the ball in the Liverpool half, but Ryan Giggs won a free-kick on the corner of the penalty area. Cristiano Ronaldo fizzed in a low drive, which Pepe Reine parried, only into the path of O’Shea, who kept his cool to side-foot the ball into the roof of the net.
“The 90th minute at Anfield, in front of the Kop . . . Gary Neville’s just told me that is his dream and I’ve just gone and done it!”