The 10 biggest matches Anfield has ever seen

6. Enter Supersub

Wednesday 16 March 1977. 7:30pm​
Liverpool 3-1 Saint-Étienne​
European Cup third round, second leg​
Attendance: 55,043

Bob Paisley’s side were a goal down after defeat in France, but like the full house at Anfield – reports at the time said 10,000 fans were locked out – they weren’t ready to concede defeat in the tie. Within two minutes Kevin Keegan had opened the scoring and it was all square on aggregate.

Then, six minutes into the second half, Saint-Étienne equalised on the night, not only putting them 2-1 ahead on aggregate but giving them a vital away goal. Liverpool were out unless they scored two more goals of their own.

Just before the hour mark Ray Kennedy got one back for Liverpool – 2-2 on the night but the Reds still on their way out because of that French away goal.

With a little over 15 minutes left Bob Paisley brought on a sub, 20-year-old David Fairclough, who scored Liverpool’s third, sending them through to the semi-finals and on their way to winning their first European Cup in Rome.

7. An international grudge match

Wednesday 12 October 1977, 7:30pm​
Wales 0-2 Scotland​
World Cup qualifier​
Attendance: 50,850

John Toshack, Joey Jones and Kenny Dalglish all took part, but this wasn’t a Liverpool match. The Welsh FA had been expected to name Wrexham as the venue for this World Cup qualifier but with money on their minds chose instead to stage it across the border at Liverpool’s much larger stadium.

Anfield was packed, but as Welsh keeper Dai Davies later recalled, it felt nothing like a home game: “As we came onto the pitch, we had a massive shock as we saw blue everywhere. We knew there would be a great deal of Scots coming down, but we were expecting to see more red in the stadium.”

The game lived up to its billing, but it wasn’t until 78 minutes that the deadlock was broken – controversially. The referee spotted a handball from Wales’s David Jones and awarded Scotland a penalty. Replays showed it was actually Scottish striker Joe Jordan who’d handled it. 

Don Masson scored the penalty, and with Kenny Dalglish tying it up three minutes from the end it was Scotland who were on their way to Argentina.

8. Lost in the Forest... again

Tuesday 12 February 1980. 7:30pm​
Liverpool 1-1 Nottingham Forest​
League Cup semi-final second leg​
Attendance: 50,880

Nottingham Forest had become something of a thorn in Liverpool’s side in the preceding couple of years, winning the League Championship and the European Cup as well as beating them in this competition’s final two years earlier in an Old Trafford replay. 

Forest were a goal up from the first leg, but over 50,000 still turned up at Anfield hoping to see the curse finally broken in one of the few competitions the Reds had never won. Within 24 minutes it wasn’t looking likely, as John Robertson put away a penalty and left Liverpool trailing by two goals in the tie.

David Fairclough had just scored a hat-trick in the league but was once again on the bench for this match, only coming on after an hour. He did pull one back for the Reds, six minutes from time, but it was too little too late and Paisley’s side were out.

A year later Liverpool won the competition for the first of four seasons in a row.

9. "It's up for grabs now..."

Friday 26 May 1989. 8:05pm​
Liverpool 0-2 Arsenal​
Football League First Division​
Attendance: 41,718

On a night most memorable for Arsenal fans because it gave them the league title against many people’s expectations, the goal that gave it to them came right at the end of the match. It was the final game of the season, played on a Friday night in front of ITV’s live cameras, and the outcome was guaranteed to clinch the title for one or other of the two sides involved.

Level on points, but four behind on goal difference, for Arsenal to win the league they had to beat Liverpool by a margin of at least two goals. At Anfield. Anything short of that and Liverpool would be picking up their 18th title, and another League and Cup double would be sealed for Kenny Dalglish.

Liverpool might have done better to go out for the win, but instead they went out to avoid defeat by two goals. It was working too, just about, at 1-0 down going into stoppage time, until a fortuitous break from Michael Thomas and a cool finish put his name in Arsenal folklore with the goal that gave the Gunners the title on goals scored. 

For Liverpool fans, however, the hurt of losing this game was nothing compared to the trauma of what had taken place the month before at Hillsborough.

10. Ghost goal gives Mourinho a chill

Tuesday 3 May 2005. 7:45pm​
Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea​
Champions League semi-final second leg​
Attendance: 42,529

Jose Mourinho and Rafa Benítez were in their first seasons in England and Mourinho had already had one success in beating Liverpool in the League Cup final, famously “shushing” Liverpool fans in the process. 

A far bigger prize was on offer now though: a place in the Champions League final. The first leg ended goalless, so Chelsea needed a win or any scoring draw to go through.

When people talk about the Kop being a twelfth man it’s because of nights like this, of which there had been more than one this particular season. Luis Garcia’s early goal – the did-it-cross-the-line one often referred to as a “ghost goal” – meant Liverpool had the advantage, but only by the most slender of margins. One strike in reply would have been enough to see Chelsea take the tie, and more than once they came close.

Not close enough, though, and after just one season in charge Rafa Benítez was taking Liverpool to their first European Cup Final in 20 years, with the help of the thousands of fans in the ground who stood throughout.


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