Category Archives: Memorable Matches

Memorable Matches: Everton 2-3 Aston Villa (December 2008)

Goalscorers: Steve Sidwell 1, Joleon Lescott 30, 90 + 3, Ashley Young 54, 90 +4


Everton: Tim Howard, Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott, Joseph Yobo, Phil Neville (Andy van der Meyde 85), Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill, Marouane Fellaini, Leon Osman, Steven Pienaar, Victor Anichebe (Leighton Baines 87)

Aston Villa: Brad Friedel, Carlos Cuellar, Curtis Davies, Martin Laursen, Luke Young, Gary Barry, James Milner, Stiliyan Petrov, Steve Sidwell, Ashley Young, Gabby Agbonlahor

Referee: Martin Atkinson, Attendance: 31,922

In the 2008-2009 season, Everton and Aston Villa were considered as the most likely challengers to the traditional top four teams at the time of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool FC. The pair met each other in December 2008 at Goodison Park and produced an afternoon of terrific entertainment and a gripping conclusion.

With only one home win all season upto this point, Everton were desperate to improve that statistic but they made the worst possible start, falling behind with the first shot on goal. James Milner teed up Steve Sidwell who crashed his shot past Tim Howard inside 34 seconds. It was the fastest goal of the 2008-2009 Premier League season so far and Sidwell’s third for the club.

David Moyes’ side responded well to the early setback despite missing star strikers Louis Saha and Yakubu because of injury. Tim Cahill got in behind Carlos Cuellar but his shot was palmed away by Brad Friedel before the American goalkeeper made a more straightforward stop to deny Marouane Fellaini.

Everton were doing all the pressing and equalised deservedly on 30 minutes. After Cuellar had impeded Cahill, Mikel Arteta’s cute free-kick was flicked on by Leon Osman and lifelong Villa fan Joleon Lescott escaped the attentions of Martin Laursen to poke the ball beyond Friedel. It was a nice way for Lescott to celebrate his 350th career appearance.

Into the second half and Everton were still bossing proceedings. Fellaini’s height was causing Villa major problems, especially at set-pieces. From numerous corners, he was winning headers all afternoon. One of them hit the crossbar when unmarked. It looked like a bad miss but replays showed Friedel had produced a late intervention, sticking his hand up to tip his effort onto the bar. It was unconventional but effective and moments later, the visitors had regained their lead. Phil Jagielka had a nightmare moment with a dreadful backpass that allowed Ashley Young in for a simple finish.

Three minutes of stoppage-time were signalled and it looked like the Toffees had rescued a point when Jagielka and Cahill won headers and Lescott had gone forward again to produce an acrobatic effort that beat Friedel to level the scores. Martin O’Neill’s side were crestfallen but had one final chance. Gabriel Agbonlahor played Young through who seared past Lescott and coolly slotted his shot into the bottom corner to win the match for Aston Villa with the last kick of the game.

It had been a great game and the Villans had shown great determination to snatch all three points despite being dominated all day in the aerial battle. Ultimately, Everton finished above them in the table but neither was quite able to break the stranglehold on the top four by the end of the season.


Memorable Matches: Crystal Palace 3-3 Blackburn Rovers (August 1992)

Goalscorers: Mark Bright 37, Stuart Ripley 42, Gareth Southgate 63, Alan Shearer 66, 81, Simon Osborn 90


Crystal Palace: Nigel Martyn, Chris Coleman (Simon Osborn 81), John Humphrey, Richard Shaw, Gareth Southgate, Andy Thorn, Eric Young, Eddie McGoldrick, John Salako (Simon Rodger 73), Geoff Thomas, Mark Bright

Blackburn Rovers: Bobby Mimms, Tony Dobson, Colin Hendry, David May, Kevin Moran, Alan Wright (Chris Price 28), Mark Atkins, Tim Sherwood, Stuart Ripley, Mike Newell, Alan Shearer

Referee: Roger Milford, Attendance: 17,086

On the very first day of FA Premier League football, there was plenty of attention on an expensively assembled Blackburn Rovers squad as they made the trip to south London to take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Blackburn were fielding the most expensive player in British football as 22-year old Alan Shearer made his club debut after his summer switch from Southampton. He wouldn’t disappoint and nor would the match itself on day one of the new era.

Played in bright, blazing sunshine, it did take both teams a while to get to grips with the humid conditions and only sporadic half-chances were created in the first 35 minutes. Eight minutes before the interval though, Crystal Palace took the lead. Young full-back Richard Shaw produced a great cross and Mark Bright was in the right place with a downward header to beat Bobby Mimms in the Blackburn goal. It was one of Bright’s final contributions in a Crystal Palace shirt. He would be sold to Sheffield Wednesday a few weeks later.

Newly-promoted Blackburn were level though just five minutes later. Shearer, who had experienced a quiet first half, provided a cross which drifted over the penalty box but was rescued by his new strike partner, Mike Newell. Newell’s cross was spot-on and an unmarked Stuart Ripley scored a rare header on his Rovers debut to level the score at half-time.

After a cagey first 45 minutes, the second half was more open and entertaining. Ripley, a summer arrival for £1.3 million from Middlesbrough, was a menace all afternoon and the winger nearly got his second of the game early in the second half, launching a shot just over the crossbar after one of his trademark runs from out wide. Steve Coppell’s Eagles, who had finished 10th in the last season of the old First Division also had their moments. John Salako produced a fierce drive which Mimms did well to tip over the crossbar. However, the Blackburn goalkeeper was culpable for Palace’s second goal. His weak punch out from a corner was returned in spectacular fashion by 21-year-old Gareth Southgate. His volley from the edge of the penalty area found the back of the net for his first goal in senior football.

Then, Shearer made his first major repayment on the transfer fee Blackburn had forked out for him. From a long punt up the park on 66 minutes, Newell’s flick-on found Shearer and he demonstrated his qualities with a dipping, swerving volley over the top of Nigel Martyn for a spectacular equaliser. Blackburn’s first top-flight match in 26 years was turning into a gripping contest and with nine minutes to go, Kenny Dalglish’s side went infront for the first time with another marvellous goal from Britain’s new record signing. Chasing a hopeful ball from Tony Dobson, Shearer cut inside from the left-hand side and hit another special shot that once again gave Martyn no chance of saving.

However, Crystal Palace kept battling on and in truth deserved a point as they played a major role in how the match unfolded. With virtually the last action in the contest, Eddie McGoldrick won a free-kick and substitutes Simon Rodger and Simon Osborn combined to earn the home side an equaliser. Rodger’s free-kick was guided into the net by Osborn’s late header. Roger Milford blew the full-time whistle virtually straight after the restart of play to highlight how late this goal was.

It was a season of contrasting fortunes for these teams. Blackburn coped well with the expectation and finished fourth but Crystal Palace were relegated on the final day and Coppell resigned shortly after the season concluded.

Memorable Matches: Everton 3-2 Wimbledon (May 1994)

Goalscorers: Dean Holdsworth 4 PEN, Gary Ablett 20 OG, Graham Stuart 24 PEN, 81, Barry Horne 67


Everton: Neville Southall, Gary Ablett, David Unsworth, Dave Watson, Ian Snodin, Barry Horne, John Ebbrell (Stuart Barlow 80), Anders Limpar, Graham Stuart, Tony Cottee, Paul Rideout

Wimbledon: Hans Segers, Warren Barton, Dean Blackwell, Gary Elkins, John Scales, Peter Fear (Gary Blissett 84), Vinnie Jones, Robbie Earle, Marcus Gayle, Andy Clarke, Dean Holdsworth

Referee: Robbie Hart, Attendance: 31,233

Everton began the final day of the 1993-1994 season inside the relegation zone, a point behind Ipswich Town, Southampton and Sheffield United. The Toffees needed a victory or face up to the realistic possibility that their 40-year top-flight stay would end at the conclusion of this match against an in-form Wimbledon. Joe Kinnear’s side went into this match in an impressive sixth position, having recently defeated both league runners-up Blackburn Rovers and champions Manchester United.

The pressure was on Mike Walker’s side and they made a nightmare start. Anders Limpar stupidly handled the ball from a corner in just the third minute. The anguish on the face of the Swedish international was clear to see and he was punished by Dean Holdsworth, whose weak penalty just evaded the grasp of Neville Southall to put the visitors infront.

After 20 minutes, it was 2-0. Two Everton defenders, Dave Watson and David Unsworth went for the same ball. Andy Clarke’s mishit shot looked like it was going wide before it took a deflection off the unfortunate Gary Ablett and ended up in the back of the net. Relegation was looking likely for the Toffees after this horrendous beginning.

Hope was restored four minutes later. Limpar resorted to desperate measures in an attempt to redeem himself for his earlier error. He threw himself to the ground under minimal contact from Peter Fear. Referee Robbie Hart gave the spot-kick and replays clearly showed Limpar had made a meal of any contact. Graham Stuart showed plenty of composure in such a high-pressure situation to stick his penalty beyond Hans Segers.

Everton were still living dangerously though. Holdsworth missed two glorious opportunities to extend the advantage again before half-time. At the interval, Everton were still looking like favourites for relegation, especially as none of their relegation rivals were losing at the break. Into the second half and Holdsworth had another chance with a header that was cleared off the goal-line by Stuart. Moments later, it was 2-2. Welshman Barry Horne tried his luck from distance and his shot flew into the back of the net. Segers had absolutely no chance.

The comeback was complete with nine minutes left. Stuart played a nice combination of passes with Tony Cottee and then, his first-time shot crept past Segers and into the back of the net. There’s no doubt the Wimbledon goalkeeper was surprised by the effort and probably should have done better. However, Everton’s comeback was complete.

At the full-time whistle, the fans ran onto the pitch in a combination of relief and delight. Everton had produced one of the most unlikely turnarounds to preserve their Premier League status at the expense of Sheffield United, whose own last-gasp defeat at Chelsea meant they were relegated instead.

Memorable Matches: Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal (October 2011)

Goalscorers: Frank Lampard 14, Robin van Persie 36, 85, 90, John Terry 45, Andre Santos 49, Theo Walcott 55, Juan Mata 80


Chelsea: Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic, Jose Bosingwa, Ashley Cole, John Terry, John Obi Mikel (Raul Meireles 76), Ramires (Romelu Lukaku 72), Frank Lampard, Juan Mata, Daniel Sturridge (Florent Malouda 62), Fernando Torres

Arsenal: Wojciech Szczesny, Per Mertesacker, Andre Santos, Laurent Koscielny, Johan Djourou (Carl Jenkinson 76), Mikel Arteta, Alex Song, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott (Tomas Rosicky 79), Gervinho (Thomas Vermaelen 88), Robin van Persie

Referee: Andre Marriner, Attendance: 41,801

Chelsea and Arsenal have played out some brilliant encounters during the Premier League era and this meeting at Stamford Bridge in October 2011 must definitely rank among the best. It was a crazy match where attacking instincts were rewarded and defensive frailties for both teams were exposed.

Andre Villas-Boas’ side were coming off the back of a damaging 1-0 defeat a week earlier to Queens Park Rangers which saw Jose Bosingwa and Didier Drogba sent off, whilst John Terry had been accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. Despite the off-field distractions, it was the Blues who struck first on 14 minutes. From Juan Mata’s great cross, Frank Lampard made one of his trademark runs into the box and he placed a header past Wojciech Szczesny.

Lampard nearly grabbed an assist soon afterwards when his tremendous ball picked out Daniel Sturridge. Unfortunately for Lampard, Sturridge horribly sliced his effort wide of the post. Arsenal had already missed a couple of great opportunities but finally took one of their chances nine minutes before the interval. Aaron Ramsey’s defence-splitting pass opened up the hosts’ backline and Gervinho squared the ball for his skipper, Robin van Persie to tap home.

Sturridge had a goal disallowed for offside before Chelsea regained their lead before half-time. Arsenal’s weakness all season had been defending from set-pieces and they conceded yet again from this situation. Lampard’s corner was bundled into the back of the net by Terry who escaped some suspect marking from the Gunners. After his testing week, it was a nice way for him to end it in a positive manner.

The fast-paced nature of this match continued after the break as Arsenal turned the game around in the opening 10 minutes of the second half. First, left-back Andre Santos scored before the brilliant Theo Walcott escaped the attentions of Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic and recovering from a slight stumble, he drilled a shot inside Petr Cech’s defences at his near post.

In-between this, Arsenal goalkeeper Szczesny charged out of his goal and hacked down Ashley Cole. The covering defenders meant referee Andre Marriner opted to take the yellow card option after advice from his assistants. A grandstand finish was set-up when Mata levelled the scores at 3-3 with 10 minutes to go with a brilliant strike from distance although Arsene Wenger was furious, feeling Santos had been fouled in the build-up by substitute Romelu Lukaku.

Then, the crucial moment came with five minutes left. Terry slipped, allowing Van Persie to race clear. The Dutchman rounded Cech and put the ball into a gaping goal to score his second of the afternoon. In the 89th minute, he completed a marvellous hat-trick, flashing a shot past Cech after being played in by Mikel Arteta.

This was Arsenal’s first away victory of the season and a memorable victory for the Gunners. Van Persie took his tally to 28 goals in 27 Premier League games in 2011 and he finished as the league’s top goalscorer in what proved to be his last season in an Arsenal jersey.

Memorable Matches: Newcastle United 5-0 Manchester United (October 1996)

Goalscorers: Darren Peacock 12, David Ginola 30, Les Ferdinand 63, Alan Shearer 75, Philippe Albert 83


Newcastle United: Pavel Srnicek, Philippe Albert, John Beresford, Darren Peacock, Steve Watson (Warren Barton 87), David Batty, David Ginola, Rob Lee (Lee Clark 87), Peter Beardsley, Les Ferdinand, Alan Shearer

Manchester United: Peter Schmeichel, Denis Irwin, Gary Neville, Ronny Johnsen (Paul Scholes 66), David May, Gary Pallister, Nicky Butt, Karel Poborsky (Brian McClair 66), David Beckham, Eric Cantona, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Jordi Cruyff 56)

Referee: Steve Dunn, Attendance: 36,579

Manchester United and Newcastle United had developed an intense and bitter rivalry in the mid-1990s. The Red Devils had snatched the title in 1996, clawing back a 12-point deficit in mid-January on the Magpies to take their third Premier League championship in four years. This match in October 1996 was Newcastle’s chance to get their revenge and they did so in a wonderful exhibition of football that saw the reigning champions destroyed on a wet Sunday afternoon on Tyneside.

Newcastle took the lead in the 12th minute. From a David Ginola corner, Alan Shearer won his header against Gary Pallister and Darren Peacock stabbed his shot towards goal. It looked like Denis Irwin might have cleared the ball off the goal-line but the linesman adjudged the ball had crossed the line before Irwin’s intervention. Despite the protests from Peter Schmeichel, the goal was given.

Alex Ferguson and Kevin Keegan had been involved in a feisty war of words at the end of the previous season, leading to Keegan’s “I will love it if we beat them” rant live on Sky television in April 1996. Five months later, Keegan definitely loved this performance and on the half-hour mark, his team went 2-0 ahead. Ginola held off the attentions of Gary Neville, who allowed him to turn inside. The Frenchman unleashed a powerful drive which flew past Schmeichel before he could react to it. It was a sensational moment from the winger who was enjoying one of his best games in a Newcastle shirt. Shearer was unlucky not to make it 3-0 before half-time too when he struck the post with a long-distance strike. The home side were performing at an unbelievably high level.

Manchester United had to improve after the break and they nearly found a way back into the match soon after the restart. Karel Poborsky’s header was well-saved by Pavel Srnicek before a combination of Steve Watson and Peacock produced a goal-line clearance to deny Eric Cantona. Victory was virtually secured on 63 minutes when Shearer produced a delightful ball into the box and Les Ferdinand outjumped David May. The forward’s header went in off the underside of the crossbar. Manchester United’s unbeaten start to the Premier League season was going to end spectacularly.

Goal number four arrived on 75 minutes. Schmeichel did superbly to deny Peter Beardsley and Ferdinand but Shearer finally added his name to the scoresheet and he enjoyed the moment, having been goaded all afternoon by visiting fans after turning down the opportunity to sign for Manchester United that summer to come home to his boyhood club. The crowning on the performance was produced by Philippe Albert with seven minutes left to play. Rob Lee and David Batty played a quick passing exchange and with no pressure on him and spotting Schmeichel off his goal-line, Albert chipped the Dane with panache and class to complete a memorable afternoon.

This was Manchester United’s worst defeat for 12 years and Newcastle’s first-ever Premier League success over the reigning champions. However, by the end of the season, the championship trophy remained in the trophy cabinet at Old Trafford.

Memorable Matches: Bradford City 4-4 Derby County (April 2000)

Goalscorers: Rory Delap 1, Branko Strupar 6, Dean Windass 11, 18, 44, Peter Beagrie 27 PEN, Craig Burley 36 PEN, 52 PEN


Bradford City: Matt Clarke, John Dreyer, Gunnar Halle, Wayne Jacobs (Isaiah Rankin 77), Andy O’Brien, David Wetherall, Ashley Westwood (Dean Saunders 71), Stuart McCall, Peter Beagrie, Robbie Blake, Dean Windass

Derby County: Mart Poom, Horacio Carbonari, Tony Dorigo, Jacob Laursen, Steve Elliott, Craig Burley, Rory Delap (SENT OFF), Seth Johnson, Darryl Powell, Malcolm Christie, Branko Strupar (Georgi Kinkladze 65)

Referee: Alan Wilkie, Attendance: 18,276

Neither Bradford, nor Derby were safe from the threat of relegation in the closing weeks of the 1999-2000 Premier League season. It was the Bantams who were under more genuine risk when the sides met and shared an eight-goal thriller on Good Friday 2000.

Bradford manager Paul Jewell will have been horrified by his team’s sluggish start as they conceded two goals inside the opening six minutes of this must-win match. Rory Delap opened the scoring after just 23 seconds. Darryl Powell’s shot was saved by Matt Clarke but the ball fell perfectly for Malcolm Christie, who unselfishly squared the ball to Delap for the midfielder to tap home. It got worse when Branko Strupar drilled a free-kick home from the edge of the penalty area. Bradford had it all to do but Dean Windass enjoyed one of those afternoons where everything he struck ended up in the back of the net.

With the home side’s first genuine attack of the match, Windass superbly controlled the ball on the half-volley and squeezed his shot past Mart Poom’s left-hand post. Amazingly, it was 2-2 just seven minutes later. Windass pounced on a poor clearing header from Steve Elliott and the striker’s confidence was sky-high. He smashed a shot into the back of the net from at least 35-yards out.

Bradford’s transformation was completed when they took the lead for the first time on 27 minutes through controversy. The hosts thought they had scored again from a well-worked free-kick. However, referee Alan Wilkie disallowed the goal and after further consultation from his linesman, gave Bradford a penalty instead. In the process, Delap had been red-carded for a deliberate handball. Although Poom went the right way, Peter Beagrie made no mistake, finding the bottom corner.

The lead lasted just nine minutes. Strupar’s flick-on into the box found Christie who was tripped in the penalty area by Ashley Westwood. Craig Burley’s penalty was spot-on to haul the 10-men back onto level terms. Just before half-time, Bradford scored the seventh goal of a dramatic first 45 minutes. Robbie Blake picked out Windass who completed his maiden Premier League hat-trick. It was the only the second time in Premier League history that seven goals had been scored in the first half.

There was more drama after the restart but just one further goal. John Dreyer handled in the area and referee Wilkie gave his third penalty of the match – all absolutely justified. Burley stuck away his second penalty of the match to make the scoreline 4-4. Then, the Rams received yet another spot-kick chance when Powell was fouled by Blake. This time round, Burley went for power and was denied by Clarke who made a fine save.

The point was better for Derby’s survival prospects and an Easter Monday victory over Southampton virtually confirmed their safety. Bradford rallied from this draw and three victories from their last four matches also meant they would be playing Premier League football in 2000-2001.

Memorable Matches: Manchester City 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur (October 1994)

Goalscorers: Paul Walsh 15, 44, Ilie Dumitrescu 29 PEN, 46, Niall Quinn 41, Steve Lomas 52, Garry Flitcroft 79


Manchester City: Andy Dibble, Keith Curle, Richard Edghill, Ian Brightwell, Terry Phelan, Garry Flitcroft, Steve Lomas, Peter Beagrie, Nicky Summerbee, Niall Quinn, Paul Walsh

Tottenham Hotspur: Ian Walker, Sol Campbell, Justin Edinburgh, David Kerslake, Kevin Scott, Gheorghe Popescu, Nick Barmby, Jason Dozzell (Micky Hazard 72), Ilie Dumitrescu, Jurgen Klinsmann, Teddy Sheringham

Referee: David Elleray, Attendance: 25,473

On a wet afternoon in Manchester in October 1994, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur produced a classic encounter for the supporters at Maine Road wrapped up against the elements.

Both sides were unchanged from their most recent matches and it was the home side who scored the first goal in this seven-goal encounter. Sol Campbell cutout Steve Lomas’ cross but his clearance only fell to City’s top scorer Paul Walsh who tucked his shot away with some aplomb against his old club. Walsh was enjoying a career renaissance since his move in March 1994 from First Division Portsmouth.

Tottenham flowed forward in search of an equaliser and found it 14 minutes later. Goalkeeper Andy Dibble committed himself and brought down Jurgen Klinsmann. Having seen red the previous weekend in an away win at Queens Park Rangers, his heartbeat must have been fluttering but David Elleray decided the foul was only enough for a yellow card.

Having missed his last three spot-kicks, Teddy Sheringham gave up responsibility to Ilie Dumitrescu and the Romanian made no mistake to level the scores. It was an end-to-end contest with both attacking outfits looking dangerous and neither defensive performance showing much signs of conviction. However, the Citizens showed their clinical approach just before half-time to score twice to go into the dressing rooms 3-1 infront.

First, Nicky Summerbee’s wicked cross was met by Walsh. Ian Walker kept his header out but Niall Quinn was first to the rebound to put City back infront. The home side’s direct approach was really working and moments later, Peter Beagrie tore down the left-hand side, found Quinn and Walsh once again provided the end product via Walker’s best efforts.

Tottenham got a goal back a minute into the second half. Klinsmann and Dumitrescu worked well together with the German’s clever backheel finding the Romanian and his shot took a deflection off Keith Curle to wrong-foot Dibble and give Spurs a pathway back into the match.

Ossie Ardiles was never known for his defensive shrewdness and more chaotic defending would follow which ensured Manchester City regained their two-goal advantage on 52 minutes. Beagrie got past David Kerslake far too easily and his inch-perfect cross found Lomas who got a free header to score. With 11 minutes left, Manchester City’s fifth goal finally put the game beyond Tottenham. Walsh again had a telling contribution, twisting and turning Campbell inside out. He then squared the ball back to Garry Flitcroft who provided a clean strike beyond Walker.

City’s 5-2 victory hastened a change in Tottenham management. After a humiliating midweek beating by Notts County in the League Cup third round, Ardiles was sacked and replaced by Gerry Francis. Tottenham ended up finishing the season in seventh position, 10 places above Manchester City in the final standings.

Memorable Matches: Norwich City 4-5 Southampton (April 1994)

Goalscorers: Mark Robins 37, Robert Ullathorne 44 OG, Jeremy Goss 48, Chris Sutton 55, 64, Matt Le Tissier 58, 63 PEN, 72, Ken Monkou 90


Norwich City: Bryan Gunn, Ian Culverhouse, Spencer Prior, Gary Megson (Mark Robins 25), Mark Bowen, Robert Ullathorne, Ian Crook, Neil Adams, Darren Eadie (Colin Woodthorpe 67), Jeremy Goss, Chris Sutton

Southampton: Dave Beasant, Francis Benali, Ken Monkou, Simon Charlton, Matt Bound, Jeff Kenna, Paul Allen, Jim Magilton, Neil Maddison, Matt Le Tissier, Iain Dowie

Referee: Keith Cooper, Attendance: 17,150

Seven games without a win and with time running out, Southampton were in the drop zone coming into this match in April 1994 against Norwich City. The Saints badly needed the points, whilst their opponents had struggled since Mike Walker’s January departure to manage Everton. His successor, John Deehan had managed just two wins in his first 16 games in the job.

The first 35 minutes of the contest were scrappy on a boggy pitch surface but both teams had scored by half-time. It was Norwich who claimed the advantage eight minutes before the break. Mark Robins, having arrived from the bench midway through the first half after an early injury to Gary Megson, fired a left-foot shot past Dave Beasant to score his first goal of an injury-hit campaign.

Before then, Southampton had created the better openings and Iain Dowie should have levelled but hit the post with the goal gaping. In the end, they got a helping hand from their opponents. On 44 minutes, Neil Maddison cut inside in the penalty area but his shot was going wide of the goal before it took an unfortunate deflection into his own net off Norwich defender, Robert Ullathorne.

It had been an unremarkable first half but the second 45 minutes was absolutely breathtaking. The goal feast started within three minutes of the restart. Neil Adams’ fine delivery landed on the head of Norwich midfielder Jeremy Goss, who scored his eighth goal of the season. Seven minutes later, Chris Sutton got in on the goalscoring act. He was quickest to pounce on Beasant being unable to hold onto a shot from Robins.

At 3-1 down, Southampton looked in real trouble but the wildcard they had in their armoury was Matt Le Tissier. He had been quiet throughout the afternoon upto the 58th minute when from the edge of the penalty area, his soft shot somehow managed to beat Bryan Gunn, despite the goalkeeper getting a strong hand to the attempt. Five minutes later, it was 3-3. Jeff Kenna’s surging run into the penalty area was ended by Ullathorne’s clumsy tackle. Referee Keith Cooper pointed to the penalty spot and Le Tissier – with his excellent penalty record, never looked like missing from 12-yards.

Only 60 seconds later, the Canaries were back infront. Sutton scored his second, heading past Beasant after beating Ken Monkou in the air from a free-kick. However, Southampton kept going and deservedly levelled at 4-4 when Le Tissier completed his hat-trick. His 100th goal for Southampton was a header that beat Gunn at his near post after a deep cross from the excellent Kenna.

It was the kind of game where a winner always looked likely and it arrived for the Saints in stoppage-time. Le Tissier turned provider with his corner finding Monkou and his downward header found the back of the net to give Southampton a priceless and ultimately, decisive lead in this amazing encounter.

It was a valuable victory for the south coast side, who confirmed their safety on an extraordinary final day. Norwich might have knocked Bayern Munich out of the UEFA Cup but finished in a low-key 12th.

Memorable Matches: Chelsea 2-4 Wimbledon (October 1996)

Goalscorers: Robbie Earle 4, Scott Minto 9, Neal Ardley 16, Marcus Gayle 64, Efan Ekoku 78, Gianluca Vialli 84 PEN


Chelsea: Kevin Hitchcock, Steve Clarke, Erland Johnsen, Franck Leboeuf, Scott Minto (Ruud Gullit 55), Dan Petrescu, Craig Burley (John Spencer 55), Roberto Di Matteo, Eddie Newton (Dennis Wise 77), Mark Hughes, Gianluca Vialli

Wimbledon: Neil Sullivan, Dean Blackwell, Alan Kimble, Kenny Cunningham, Chris Perry, Neal Ardley, Vinnie Jones, Robbie Earle, Oyvind Leonhardsen, Efan Ekoku (Peter Fear 80), Marcus Gayle

Referee: David Elleray, Attendance: 28,020

Having lost their first three matches of the 1996-1997 season, Wimbledon had produced a phenomenal turnaround and when they travelled across the capital to play Chelsea in October 1996, they were chasing a seventh successive victory. This would equal a club-record and put them one short of Manchester United’s best effort of eight consecutive wins in the early Premier League days.

The team news was dominated by Ruud Gullit’s controversial decision to drop Dennis Wise after some recent error-strewn displays. Eddie Newton was chosen as his replacement for his first start in eight months. If Gullit was looked for a good start, he wasn’t going to get it. Wimbledon took the lead inside four minutes with one of their trademark, unfashionable goals. Vinnie Jones’ deep throw-in provided chaos in the Chelsea defence. Efan Ekoku put off Kevin Hitchcock and Robbie Earle was braver in a challenge against Franck Leboeuf to score his fourth career goal at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea had won just once in their last four matches but provided an instant response. From a pre-planned free-kick routine, Dan Petrescu teed-up Scott Minto and the full-back, only starting because of an injury to Andy Myers, scored his first-ever goal for Chelsea. Wimbledon regained their lead on 16 minutes. Neal Ardley got away from Newton and his shot seemed to completely deceive Hitchcock who was going in one direction and the ball went in another. It was the strangest of goals but Wimbledon weren’t complaining. They were back infront. It was nearly 3-1 before half-time too. Marcus Gayle was too clever for Steve Clarke and was desperately unlucky not to score as his shot was deflected onto the crossbar by a relieved Hitchcock.

10 minutes into the second half and Gullit decided to make a bold decision with a double substitution, bringing himself into the game along with another forward in John Spencer. It was Gullit’s first appearance since being appointed player-manager in the summer. The gamble backfired. Although there was an initial lift in terms of the atmosphere, it was Wimbledon who installed a two-goal cushion nine minutes after this tactical alteration.

From a punt up the park by Dean Blackwell, Gayle was given too much time and space, committed Clarke into a challenge he was always second-best to and then curled a wonderful shot with the outside of his left-foot into the goal. Gullit had a goal disallowed for offside and the match as a contest was firmly put out of Chelsea’s reach with 12 minutes left to play. Leboeuf woefully misjudged a clearance and his miscue put Ekoku in. The Nigerian provided a brilliant finish into the bottom corner to score his sixth goal in as many matches.

In the closing stages, a frustrated Gianluca Vialli was brought down by Kenny Cunningham in the penalty area, allowing the home side the chance to score a second goal. Vialli’s penalty was audacious and fortuitously crossed the line, with Neil Sullivan saving it behind the goal-line. However, this was one of Wimbledon’s finest away performances and it took them into second position in the Premier League table. The Dons eventually finished in eighth spot.

Chelsea’s season took a tragic turn just days after this game. Following a League Cup defeat in midweek away at Bolton Wanderers, Chelsea vice-chairman Matthew Harding was killed in a helicopter crash. The Blues rallied from this devastating news to finish sixth in the Premier League and win the FA Cup, beating Wimbledon in the semi-finals at Highbury.

Memorable Matches: West Ham United 3-5 Manchester United (March 2002)

Goalscorers: Steve Lomas 8, David Beckham 17, 89 PEN, Freddie Kanoute 20, Nicky Butt 22, Paul Scholes 55, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 64, Jermain Defoe 78


West Ham United: David James, Christian Dailly, Vladimir Labant, Tomas Repka, Sebastien Schemmel, Nigel Winterburn (Jermain Defoe 74), Michael Carrick, Steve Lomas, Joe Cole, Paolo Di Canio, Freddie Kanoute

Manchester United: Fabien Barthez, Laurent Blanc, Ronny Johnsen, Gary Neville, Mikael Silvestre, Nicky Butt, Roy Keane, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Diego Forlan 84), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Quinton Fortune 87)

Referee: Mark Halsey, Attendance: 35,281

Manchester United had recovered brilliantly from a sloppy start to their title defence in the 2001-2002 Premier League season and the Red Devils had the chance to reassert their authority over their nearest challengers in March 2002 when they travelled to Upton Park to play West Ham United.

It turned into a pulsating contest with plenty of great attacking and some insipid defending from both teams. West Ham got the ball rolling after eight minutes. Czech defender Vladimir Labant delivered a brilliant cross into the penalty area and it was attacked with venom by Steve Lomas, whose header crashed past Fabien Barthez off the underside of the crossbar. Glenn Roeder’s side were looking for a rare league double over the Red Devils, having beaten them 1-0 at Old Trafford in December.

The champions’ response came in beautiful fashion from the England captain. On 17 minutes, Paul Scholes intercepted possession from Joe Cole, found David Beckham and he did the rest with an exquisite chip over his international colleague David James from the edge of the 18-yard box. It was delicate, classy and cheeky from Beckham and not his last vital contribution either.

Parity lasted though for just three minutes. Freddie Kanoute found some space in the visiting penalty area and lashed a shot beyond Barthez to put the home side back infront. However, Manchester United quickly levelled the scores again. Nicky Butt’s right-foot shot finding the net after being found by Beckham at a free-kick. The high-tempo continued from both teams in a breathless first 45 minutes but Ferguson’s side started to gain a stranglehold on the match early in the second half and took the lead for the first time 10 minutes after the restart. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer evaded the attentions of two defenders and his cross found an unmarked Scholes, who couldn’t miss from six-yards out.

As West Ham opened up even more, the clinical approach of Manchester United’s play was demonstrated further by their fourth goal, scored by Solskjaer. Despite the best efforts of James and Sebastian Schemmel who blocked efforts from Ruud van Nistelrooy and Solskjaer, the Norwegian was not to be denied at the third attempt of asking.

Within four minutes of his arrival from the bench, Jermain Defoe pulled the scoreline back to 4-3 with 12 minutes remaining but this time, the champions kept control and grabbed a fifth goal towards the end. Beckham’s second of a masterful performance came from the penalty spot after Tomas Repka had been penalised for fouling Scholes. The win put Sir Alex Ferguson’s side back at the top of the Premier League table but two further home defeats in the run-in, including a shock reverse to Middlesbrough a week later saw their three-year stranglehold on the Premier League ultimately ended by Arsenal.

Memorable Matches: Crystal Palace 3-3 Liverpool FC (May 2014)

Goalscorers: Joe Allen 18, Damien Delaney 53 OG, Luis Suarez 55, Damien Delaney 79, Dwight Gayle 81, 88


Crystal Palace: Julian Speroni, Scott Dann, Damien Delaney, Adrian Mariappa, Joel Ward, Kagisho Dikgacoi (Tom Ince 85), Mile Jedinak, Jason Puncheon (Dwight Gayle 65), Joe Ledley, Yannick Bolasie, Marouane Chamakh (Glenn Murray 71)

Liverpool FC: Simon Mignolet, Jon Flanagan, Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson, Lucas, Joe Allen, Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling (Philippe Coutinho 78), Daniel Sturridge (Victor Moses 86), Luis Suarez

Referee: Mark Clattenburg, Attendance: 25,261

Following Manchester City’s win at Everton 48 hours earlier, Liverpool FC couldn’t afford any slip-ups in their penultimate match of the 2013-2014 season at Selhurst Park against an ever-improving Crystal Palace side. The Reds knew a victory would put them top of the table again, even if the destiny of the championship was out of their hands.

Goal difference was against the Reds but they were an attacking threat from all directions and this was shown early on when Glen Johnson made a deep run from full-back and only just headed wide of the post after being picked out beautifully by Joe Allen. On 18 minutes, Allen opened the scoring. The Welshman escaped his markers at the far post to guide home Steven Gerrard’s corner, scoring his first Premier League goal for the club in the process.

Palace came into the match having won five of their last six matches and certainly contributed to the contest. Both Jason Puncheon and Mile Jedinak forced Simon Mignolet into vital saves in the first half to preserve Liverpool’s lead at the interval.

That advantage was doubled eight minutes into the second half. Daniel Sturridge’s shot deflected off Damien Delaney and into the corner of Julian Speroni’s net. Two minutes later, Raheem Sterling picked out Luis Suarez and the Premier League’s top scorer bagged his 31st goal of the campaign from close-range. All of a sudden, Liverpool had raced clear into a 3-0 lead and sensed an opportunity to score more goals. They didn’t come and Brendan Rodgers’ side were about to be stunned in an amazing final 11 minutes.

First, Delaney’s fortunes changed. Given time to try his luck, the centre-back saw his own effort deflect off Johnson and rise into the top corner, giving Mignolet no chance. It was a time for Liverpool to stay calm and take the result they had but two minutes later, Palace grabbed another goal back. Yannick Bolasie’s searing pace on the counter-attack left the visitors short in defensive numbers. Bolasie picked out substitute Dwight Gayle who produced an excellent finish into the bottom corner.

The home supporters could sense the sudden shift in momentum and the remarkable comeback was completed in the 88th minute. A long ball up the field was chested on by Glenn Murray into the path of Gayle who scored his second of the evening to make it 3-3. In eight crazy minutes, the Reds had forfeited a three-goal lead and their title chances were all but gone. As Martin Tyler put it in his Sky Sports commentary: “Liverpool have caved in!”

Rodgers’ side had one final chance from a corner but Lucas was denied by Speroni and soon afterwards, the final whistle was blown. The point did actually take Liverpool top of the table but it was advantage Manchester City. The tears from Suarez at full-time said it all. Liverpool had thrown it away and six days later, Manchester City’s second Premier League title was confirmed.

Memorable Matches: Middlesbrough 5-3 Birmingham City (March 2004)

Goalscorers: Gaizka Mendieta 5, Massimo Maccarone 21, 45, Mikael Forssell 23, 59, Gareth Southgate 30, Clinton Morrison 44, Szilard Nemeth 90


Middlesbrough: Mark Schwarzer, Franck Queudrue, Ugo Ehiogu, Gareth Southgate, Danny Mills, Jonathan Greening, Doriva, Gaizka Mendieta, Juninho (Stewart Downing 76), Joseph Desire-Job (Szilard Nemeth 64), Massimo Maccarone (Michael Ricketts 75)

Birmingham City: Maik Taylor, Kenny Cunningham, Matthew Upson, Martin Grainger, Martin Taylor, Stephen Clemence, Damien Johnson (Stern John 46), Bryan Hughes, Stan Lazaridis, Mikael Forssell, Clinton Morrison

Referee: Uriah Rennie, Attendance: 30,231

In March 2004, both Middlesbrough and Birmingham City were enjoying decent seasons and the pair had two of the better defensive records in the Premier League. So, an eight-goal thriller can’t have been predicted by many before kick-off on a blustery day on Teeside.

Birmingham were seventh in the table before the game started and could go fourth with victory at The Riverside, whilst Boro had recorded their first major piece of silverware earlier in the month with victory over Bolton Wanderers in the League Cup final. It was the home side who dealt with the conditions best early on and took the lead inside five minutes. Massimo Maccarone held off Matthew Upson and played the ball back to Juninho. The creative Brazilian found the in-form Gaizka Mendieta who drilled a shot into the far corner.

In the 21st minute, Mendieta turned goal provider, getting away from Martin Grainger and squaring the ball to Maccarone who couldn’t miss from close-range. Birmingham were stunned but produced a swift response. Danny Mills dithered in possession and was caught out by Stan Lazaridis. He picked out Mikael Forssell who curled a shot past Mark Schwarzer to half the deficit.

After Schwarzer tipped a Lazaridis header onto the crossbar shortly afterwards, Steve McClaren’s side restored their two-goal advantage on the half-hour mark. Mendieta’s corner was met by Mills at the back post and Gareth Southgate was in the right place to stab home his first goal of the season. A minute before half-time, Birmingham reduced the arrears again. Schwarzer couldn’t hold onto Forssell’s shot and the ball squirmed out to Clinton Morrison who tapped home.

However, Steve Bruce couldn’t get his team into the dressing rooms trailing by just one goal. The outstanding Mendieta claimed his second assist of the game by picking out Maccarone. Facing upto Martin Taylor, he curled an outstanding shot into the top corner of Maik Taylor’s net. The Italian was loving this match and so too were the crowd who had been treated to some of the best attacking football seen in the first 45 minutes of any Premier League match in the 2003-2004 season.

Goal number seven of this belting contest arrived on 59 minutes. Grainger’s free-kick was met by Forssell and his header hit the post and crossed the line despite Schwarzer’s best efforts on the goal-line. Birmingham started to open up further in an attempt to grab an equaliser but in stoppage-time, Middlesbrough finally wrapped up the three points. Szilard Nemeth came off the bench to make the most of a slip in the backline to score the home side’s fifth goal of the afternoon.

Birmingham finished 10th, Middlesbrough 11th in the final standings but they both contributed to an enjoyable afternoon for all spectators who witnessed this match-up at The Riverside Stadium.