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This Season 
Match Reports 1999-2000 - Liverpool (H)
 
Newcastle United 2 Liverpool 2

Date: 26th December 1999 3pm. 

Venue: St.James' Park.

Conditions:

Kit: Normal home.

Crowd: 36,445.

Teams:

NUFC: Harper, Barton, Hughes, Dabizas, Pistone, Dyer (Glass 52 mins), Lee, Solano (Gallacher 73 mins),  Speed, Ferguson (Ketsbaia 90 mins)  Shearer.

Subs n/u: Given, Marcelino.

Sent Off: None.
Booked: None.

LFC: Westerveld, Gerrard, Song, Hyypia, Matteo, Murphy (Fowler 82) Hamann, Carragher, Berger, Camara (Heggem 69), Owen.

Subs n/u: Staunton, Friedel, Traore.

Sent Off: None.
Booked: None.

Referee: David Elleray. By the laughable standards of referees this season, had a proficient and incident-free game.

Goals:

12 mins Shearer/Solano - you take your pick, and wait to see if the Premiership Panel who judge such things agree with you. Solano took a freekick in front of the Milburn Stand, facing the Leazes end. One quick flap from Westerveld and it nestled in the back of the goal - Alan Shearer claiming the merest of touches that TV later couldn't pick out.  1-0.

31 mins
Delayed
dispersal of presents to Michael Owen, who managed to take the ball off a seemingly hypnotised Pistone on the byline and slip a shot past Harper. 1-1.

52 mins
Beware of Greeks bearing gifts, as a wayward backpass from Dabizas was seized upon by an unattended Michael Owen and gleefully dispatched from 18 yards for the lead 1-2.

67 mins
Man of the Match Barton flighted an angled ball into the penalty area and Duncan Ferguson managed to scrape his barnet across it, to direct the ball into the bottom corner of the Gallowgate goal. 2-2.

Waffle:  

Ah, Boxing Day, time of irrelevant aftershave wearing, non-existent public transport and for our favourite team, much wailing and gnashing of teeth. 

Not since the halcyon days of the pre-Premiership era had we managed a goal on this day, and our best return of recent seasons was a bland nil-all draw at Leeds. 

Indeed, a trip back in the toon time machine to 1988 is required for a top-flight success, when Rob Macdonald and the unwitting knee of Michael O'Neill gave us a win at Hillsborough.....and of course we barely won another match and were deservedly relegated. Happy days. 

In the context of this sort of record then, a point at home and goals scored represents progress of a sort, although in the typically off-kilter world of this football club, it could so easily have been three. 

Late pressure on the visitors goal didn't manage to force in a winner, but a point was fair reward for two costly lapses at the back that allowed Owen to sustain his personal anti-Geordie scoring vendetta. 

Memories of his treble in Rudi's rude 4-1 awakening last season were briefly prompted by the joyful celebration that followed his second goal, and the
embarrassed faces of the defence, but a more dogged attitude ensured that this would be no Red walkover.

Amongst the interested parties watching was England boss Kevin Keegan, now no longer a St.James' stayaway, accompanied by his former player Philippe Albert (the pair also met in up in Albert's home town of Charleroi some days later, as KK went over to check out the European Championship venue.) 

They would both have been impressed with the performance of Barton, both in defence and as an attacking force, where his persistence and intermittent dollops of skill were a threat to the scousers. 

In these times of reduced expectations, it isn't beyond the realms of possibility that ol' Centre Parting could yet add to his small reservoir of international appearances from the mid 90's.

Similarly Robert Lee may also have prematurely written off his chances of a 22nd cap given his run of form since the Dutch bloke slung his hook. A midfield that doesn't look marvellous in theory seems in practice somehow to work, with Speed and Lee doing the harrying and Nobby continuing to create goals at a prolific rate.

(The subsequent absence of Lee through injury against West Ham underlined the loss, as Robson chose the inexperienced talents of Fumaca over the unremarkable McClen and the midfield suddenly looked porous.)

At the risk of falling into a fawning cup-runneth-over trap of praising Bobby to the Heavens (as is the current vogue), this game, above most of the other ones during the Robson Reign (along with Roma) seems to provide the starkest contrast between him and the previous incumbent. 

While I have reservations about some of the players he clearly favours (principally Fumaca, Marcelino and Gallacher) and cannot fathom his mania for late substitutions, his ability to inject a sense of team spirit back into this United side should be held up to younger wannabe managers as a shining example. God bless the old bugger.               

Biffa


Page last updated 26 December, 2011