21st November 1990 – Anfield
Back in the day when players wore short shorts, referees had regular jobs and City and Liverpool fans enjoyed a friendly rivalry, mainly brought on by their joint hatred of United, City travelled to Merseyside to try and win at a place where they hadn’t won for eight years.
Liverpool were the reigning First Division champions and were unbeaten going into the match, having won 12 of their opening 13 games and sat six points clear of Arsenal at the top of the league. City were in 7th place in the league, eighteen points behind the leaders and, as usual, the fans travelled in their droves, more in hope than expectation.
As expected, the champions started well, with John Barnes taking a free kick from Peter Beardsley, before turning his man and firing across goal. City had chances of their own, with left back Neil Pointon darting forward, only for the ball to fall to Mark Ward who hit a tame shot that was gathered easily by Grobbelaar in the Liverpool goal.
Liverpool continued to press and David Burrows shot was saved by Andy Dibble, before Beardsley danced past two City defenders into the City area and flicked the ball to future blue Steve McMahon, whose shot cannoned off Beardsley towards the goal, until it hit Ian Brightwell to go behind for a corner.
City started the second half much brighter and Mark Ward was released down the right and crossed for Niall Quinn, but the big Irishman was stretching to meet the cross and his shot went wide. But on 62 minutes, City stunned their own fans as much as the home side by taking the lead. Quinn med David White’s cross which forced an excellent save from Grobbelaar. Gary Megson picked up the loose ball and fed Ward, who was felled by Ronnie Whelan and the referee pointed straight to the spot.
Ward stepped up and hammered the ball straight down the middle, which rebounded of the keeper’s body and hit the roof of the net to send City fans into fantasy land. It was only the second time Liverpool had conceded at Anfield in a league match all season, and blues fans were dreaming of inflicting a first defeat of the season on the Reds.
It was all hands to the pump in the City defence as Liverpool started to pressure the blues. Beardsley and Ray Houghton both fired wide when in good positions, while Ian Rush was denied by a superb last-minute block. Steve Redmond cleared for a corner when under pressure from Rush, but the resulting corner on 82 minutes brought about Liverpool’s equaliser.
Beardsley’s corner was headed down by Hussein to Barnes, whose turn and shot was deflected in by Ian Rush. City appealed for handball and it did look like Rush had punched the ball home, however the goal was given and Liverpool were level.
Four minutes later, City capitulated as Liverpool took the lead. Ian Brightwell was…well no one knows what Brightwell was trying to do as his attempted hoof went back towards the City goal and fell for substitute Ronnie Rosethal, who beat Pointon and flicked the ball brilliantly over Dibble to put the hosts in front.
It was a familiar story for City in matches like these, but on this occasion, they weren’t to be denied. With a minute to go, Clive Allen was brought down outside the Liverpool penalty area and with the home side singing, You’ll Never Walk Alone in anticipation of the win, Ward’s powerful free-kick was tipped over the bar by Grobbelaar. Ward raced over to take the corner, and his cross found Quinn on the penalty spot, and the big striker’s header hit the underside of the bar, hit Whelan and bounced in for the City equaliser.
It was a big moment for City, not only for the blues confidence but also in the title race. The blues went on to finish fifth in the league, their highest top flight finish since 1978 when they finished fourth in the league on 52 points, just 12 behind champions Nottingham Forest (it was 2 points for a win in 1978 though).
After drawing with City, Liverpool then lost at Arsenal, before losing their way in the second half of the season, conceding the title to Arsenal by seven points.
Final Score: Liverpool 2-2 Manchester City