Tag Archives: Peter Schmeichel

Premier League Rewind: 2nd-4th March 1996

Results: Coventry City 2-2 West Ham United, Leeds United 0-1 Bolton Wanderers, Manchester City 1-1 Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough 0-2 Everton, Queens Park Rangers 1-1 Arsenal, Sheffield Wednesday 1-3 Nottingham Forest, Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Southampton, Wimbledon 1-1 Chelsea, Liverpool FC 3-0 Aston Villa, Newcastle United 0-1 Manchester United

Just over six weeks earlier, Newcastle United had established a 12-point lead at the top of the Premier League table. Kevin Keegan’s side looked to be virtually uncatchable. Then, the jitters started to hit his team.

Defeat at West Ham United, followed by a 3-3 draw at relegation-haunted Manchester City meant their lead had been chopped to just four points by Manchester United, who were running into form at just the right time. The Red Devils had won their last five Premier League matches and they were heading to St. James’ Park with the momentum. The eyes of the footballing world were on Tyneside for a Monday Night encounter on 4th March 1996.

Newcastle made the brighter start and should have led by half-time. Peter Schmeichel had to deny Les Ferdinand twice from close-range before Philippe Albert’s free-kick hit the crossbar with the Danish goalkeeper beaten. The visitors had survived the onslaught and scored crucially six minutes into the second half. Eric Cantona peeled away on the back post and met Phil Neville’s cross with a clean strike which defeated Pavel Srnicek and gave Alex Ferguson’s side a lead they wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the match. Newcastle still had a one-point lead but their first home loss of the Premier League season prompted the bookmakers to make the Red Devils the new title favourites.

Liverpool FC couldn’t be ruled out though. They were just six points off the top spot after tearing Aston Villa apart 24 hours earlier. They scored three goals in the first eight minutes to register a 3-0 victory. Roy Evans’ side were now unbeaten in 13 top-flight matches after this clinical display. Steve McManaman scored inside the first 60 seconds and Robbie Fowler added two more goals to his growing tally. It was only Aston Villa’s second league reverse of 1996 and they’d both come at the hands of Liverpool FC. Their outside title challenge had been destroyed on Merseyside.

Whilst the top four were playing against each other, Tottenham Hotspur continued their strong season under the guidance of Gerry Francis. Jason Dozzell’s 64th minute goal was enough to defeat Southampton 1-0 at White Hart Lane and drop Southampton into the bottom three. Manchester City climbed out of the relegation places after a late equaliser to draw 1-1 with defending champions Blackburn Rovers, who were mired in mid-table. Blackburn’s home form was strong all season but away from home was a different story. They’d recorded just one away victory to this point in their title defence.

Bottom of the table were Bolton Wanderers but they gave their faint survival hopes a real boost with a surprising 1-0 win at Elland Road over Leeds United. Gudni Bergsson scored the only goal of the game as they made it back-to-back victories on their travels. Leeds had now lost their last four games and seemed to be in no form whatsoever with a League Cup final date with Aston Villa looming.

Elsewhere, Nottingham Forest returned to winning ways with a 3-1 success at Hillsborough over Sheffield Wednesday and Coventry’s 2-2 draw with West Ham United kept them clear of the bottom three for now.

What else happened in March 1996?

  • 16 school pupils and one teacher are killed in a massacre at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland. The gunman, an unemployed former shopkeeper commits suicide.
  • The European Union prohibits exports of British beef as a result of the BSE crisis.
  • Nelson Mandela is granted a divorce from Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
  • Braveheart wins Best Picture at the 68th Academy Awards in Los Angeles.
  • John Howard defeats Paul Keating in federal elections to become the new Australian Prime Minister.
  • Chechen rebels attack the Russian government headquarters in Grozny. 200 people are killed.
  • Sri Lanka defeat Australia to win the 1996 Cricket World Cup.
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Iconic Moments: Schmeichel scores! (October 2001)

During the first decade of the Premier League, Peter Schmeichel was arguably the best goalkeeper seen. He won five Premier League titles with Manchester United and developed an art for spectacular saves. However, he did like to score the occasional goal too.

In 1995, he headed home from a corner in a UEFA Cup tie against Rotor Volgograd at Old Trafford. United went out on away goals so his efforts counted for little. Six years later, he was at it again, this time playing for Aston Villa.

Villa were at Goodison Park, playing Everton and trailing 3-1. Schmeichel decided to come up into the Everton penalty area for a corner and when the Toffees’ defenders failed to clear, Schmeichel smashed the ball into the back of the net with a volley that Thierry Henry would have been proud of.

Everton held on to claim all three points on the day but it was the Dane who made all the headlines afterwards. In its 10th season, Schmeichel had become the first goalkeeper to score a goal. He ended his career in 2003 with Manchester City, having scored nine goals professionally at club level. Not a bad achievement for a player who was an expert at keeping them out at the other end.

Memorable Matches: Newcastle United 0-1 Manchester United (March 1996)

Goalscorer: Eric Cantona 52

Teams:

Newcastle United: Pavel Srnicek, John Beresford, Philippe Albert, Steve Howey, Warren Barton, David Batty, Rob Lee, Peter Beardsley, David Ginola, Faustino Asprilla, Les Ferdinand

Manchester United: Peter Schmeichel, Phil Neville, Steve Bruce, Denis Irwin, Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, Lee Sharpe, Eric Cantona, Andy Cole

Referee: David Elleray, Attendance: 36,584

On Monday, 4 March 1996, the eyes of the football world were fixed on Tyneside and the eagerly-anticipated meeting between the top two in the 1995-1996 title race. Newcastle United had set the pace all season but they were now under the most scrutiny they’d ever experienced.

In mid-January, Newcastle beat Bolton Wanderers 2-1 to go a staggering 12 points clear but February had brought about a damaging defeat away to West Ham United and a 3-3 draw with relegation candidates Manchester City. They arrived into the match just four points clear of Manchester United.

The Red Devils’ were in great form. Alex Ferguson’s side had strung together a five-game winning sequence which had included a 6-0 thumping of the league’s bottom side Bolton in their last away match. They had the confidence and the momentum. This looked like being the most crucial game of the season for both teams.

It was Andy Cole’s first return to St James’ Park since his surprise departure 14 months earlier in a £7 million transfer to Manchester United but he and Eric Cantona barely got a look-in during a first half completely dominated by the hosts. Unfortunately for Kevin Keegan’s side, Peter Schmeichel was saving his best form for this match.

Twice in the opening five minutes, Schmeichel show his uncompromising attitude to the game by denying Newcastle star striker and top scorer Les Ferdinand. He had no chance though with a Philippe Albert free-kick. The Belgian defender was desperately unlucky to see his effort crash off the crossbar. From the rebound, Ferdinand hoisted the ball over the top. The Newcastle faithful might have been beginning to get the feeling that this wasn’t going to be their night.

Six minutes into the second half, Manchester United struck the significant blow in clinical fashion. Cole was involved in the build-up, evading challenges on the edge of the penalty area. Phil Neville produced a delightful cross to the back post, where an unmarked Cantona arrived. He hit his shot into the ground and there was enough power on it to spin past Pavel Srnicek’s dive. The celebrations from Cantona’s teammates indicated what a big goal this was.

Newcastle had 61% possession in total and 16 attempts on goal but simply couldn’t find a way through. This was their first home defeat of the season and it trimmed their advantage down to just a single point, but with a game in hand. After this result, Manchester United were made favourites by the bookies’ to win the title for the first time since the 1995-1996 season began.

Ferguson’s side grew even stronger after this result. They dropped just five more points in their remaining matches and eventually won their third Premier League title by four points. This was the night where the destiny of the 1995-1996 championship swayed in favour of Manchester United.

Memorable Matches: Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal (March 1998)

Goalscorer: Marc Overmars 79

Teams:

Manchester United: Peter Schmeichel, John Curtis (Ben Thornley 52), Denis Irwin, Henning Berg, Gary Neville, Phil Neville (Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 77), Ronny Johnsen (David May 79), David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Teddy Sheringham, Andy Cole

Arsenal: Alex Manninger, Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon, Martin Keown, Tony Adams, Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Vieira, Ray Parlour (Remi Garde 70), Marc Overmars, Christopher Wreh (Nicolas Anelka 66), Dennis Bergkamp

Referee: Alan Wilkie, Attendance: 55,174

It wasn’t quite a title decider but this match between Manchester United and Arsenal in March 1998 was a pivotal one in deciding who would claim the advantage in the season. Two weeks earlier, United had beaten Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. Most bookmakers’ stopped taking bets and some even started paying out on another title for the men from Old Trafford.

However, Arsenal dug in and were starting to be rewarded. Three days earlier, they had won at Wimbledon to close the gap at the top to nine points with three games in-hand. Defeat at the Theatre of Dreams would all but end their aspirations for a title tilt. Victory would put them within striking distance of their opponents, who still had European action on their minds.

Alex Ferguson’s options were restricted by injuries. Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane and Nicky Butt were among those on the treatment table whilst Alex Manninger passed a late fitness test to keep his spot in-goal for the Gunners’ with David Seaman still absent through injury.

After early pressure from the home side, it was Arsenal who looked the more energised. Marc Overmars was the most threatening player to Manchester United. His best chance of the first half was a shot into the side netting after splitting the defence. Gary Neville and youngster John Curtis were struggling to handle the pace of Overmars throughout. United’s best opening came seven minutes before the interval. Andy Cole looked in an offside position but the flag stayed down. This meant Cole was played through but he was to be thwarted by Manninger.

There was little change in terms of the momentum in the second half. Arsenal were the more likely side to score but were passing up opportunities to inflict the damage. Finally, they broke the deadlock 11 minutes from full-time. Substitute Nicolas Anelka flicked the ball onto Overmars, who once again ran beyond Gary Neville. His header gave him the advantage to run onto the ball and saw him beat Peter Schmeichel as the Dane started to close down his angles. It was the first goal Arsenal had scored at Old Trafford since 1991 and what a crucial one it was.

As they tried to rescue the game, there was worse to come for Manchester United. Schmeichel decided to make a run into the Arsenal penalty area for a corner but when the move broke down and he tried to sprint back, he pulled his hamstring, ruling him out of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg with French side AS Monaco.

Arsenal had done it and became just the second side to double Manchester United in a season in Premier League history. They wouldn’t drop another point before wrapping up the title in early May. Arsene Wenger became the first foreign manager to win the Premier League and the platform for this success was this result at Old Trafford.