FA Cup fifth round – February 16th 2008 – Result.
Liverpool 1 Barnsley 2.
There’s no getting around it. Losing in the FA Cup hurts. It always does.
Liverpool FC have existed since 1892, so that’s 116 years this year. As a result they’ve attempted to win the FA Cup a fair few times in their history. And even though they’re joint fourth in the all-time list of winners, they’ve only actually succeeded seven times. That’s a lot of disappointment over a large number of years.
In no particular order, some of those disappointments.
1996. The final, probably the dullest final there’d ever been until that point in the cup’s long history. Really it should have gone to a replay and the footage of that game should have gone to the incinerator along with those white suits. Then a goal from nowhere saw Manchester United win the silver. Neither team had deserved anything out of that game – neither team seemed particularly bothered about the game, but one team got the lucky break. It hurt. Hurt because it was the final, hurt because it was against the hated Mancs, hurt because it always hurts when you lose in the FA Cup.
1977. The final again. The Mancs again. Sandwiched in between the last game of yet another triumphant league season and the club’s first ever European Cup triumph in Rome. A fluky goal, in a competition that eluded Bob Paisley throughout his glorious years in charge at Anfield. It hurt. It always does. Although nobody would swap the joy we got from our night in Italy’s capital for the joy we could have had at Wembley.
1990. It’s not just finals where it hurts to go out. King Kenny was the manager as Liverpool went out in the semi-final to underdogs Crystal Palace. The Reds were 1-0 up at half-time, and surely it was just a case of how many they’d win by – after all they’d demolished the same team 9-0, yes nine nil, earlier in the league season at Anfield. Villa Park was surely the home for party ahead of yet another trip to Wembley for the Kop’s kings. Well maybe complacency set in – because after ninety minutes it was 3-3, and against the odds Crystal Palace went on to win it in extra time. 4-3 to Palace. We were out. It hurt. Like hell. Always does when you lose in the FA Cup.
1987. King Kenny the boss. Plastic pitch kings Luton Town the opponents. 0-0 at Kenilworth Road. And 0-0 again at Anfield in the replay, eventually, when the little side could be bothered to turn up like their own fans had for the first attempt at the replay. Their fans were allowed to travel to away games, but they wouldn’t allow away fans into their ground. Which is where, rather than a neutral venue as most had expected, the second replay was played just 48 hours after the last one. Luton won, 3-0. It hurt. It always does in the FA Cup.
1978. On the way to a second European triumph under Bob Paisley, in Dalglish’s first season as a Red, and a trip to face a Chelsea side who were nothing like the rivals they are today. Kenny scored – but we lost 4-2. It hurt. It’s the FA Cup – it always hurt to lose.
1984. Joe Fagan the boss now, continuing the tradition of promoting from within and following in the hallowed footsteps of Paisley and Shankly. By the end of that season the man who also deserves a permanent structure at Anfield or the new place, be it a gateway or a statue, had won a treble. The League. The European Cup – our fourth. And the League Cup – won in a replay against Everton. But the FA Cup was the one that got away in that season of dominance. It was Brighton and Hove Albion of all teams that knocked us out. Brighton! It was only the fourth round, and we were out. At the end of the season it didn’t bother us too much, we’d got three trophies to stick in front of the players for the next team photo. But at the end of January, that defeat hurt. It always does when you lose in the FA Cup.
1981. There’s one fixture, home or away, that always hurts to lose. Doesn’t matter what competition it’s in, doesn’t matter whether it’s through bad luck, a poor performance or just losing to the better team on the day. It hurts to lose the derby. And an FA Cup derby defeat hurts all the more. That’s what happened in 1981, when Imre Varadi earned his name on the Everton FC honours list. He only played 34 times for Everton, but his part in the elimination of the Reds from the cup means they’ll never forget him. And because it was in the FA Cup neither will we. The fourth round again. Out we went. Of course it hurt. It’s the FA Cup. It always does.
1988. The final again. King Kenny’s men against Wimbledon. It was nailed on, surely. The players were confident enough, having fun recording “The Anfield Rap” as their FA Cup final single: “They don’t talk like we do, do dee dough la,” ‘sang’ Steve McMahon and John Aldridge. But it just wasn’t to be. Aldo, penalty king, missed a penalty. The first one ever in a Wembley final. Beardsley had a perfectly good goal disallowed in the days when refs rarely bothered to allow the advantage – the ref had blown-up for a free kick already. Lawrie Sanchez scored what was the only goal of the game, giving Wimbledon the greatest moment in their history. It really did hurt. It always does in the FA Cup.
2000. Fourth round. Anfield the venue. Gerard Houllier the manager. Jamie Carragher in midfield. Steven Gerrard at right-back. Nathan Blake the scorer. 1-0 the score. Blackburn the winners. Hurt the emotion. You know which competition it was.
2008. Fifth round at Anfield against Barnsley from the division below. From mid-table in the division below. Dirk Kuyt finally scored after an awful season by any striker’s standards – it was only his eight goal of the campaign. Half-time 1-0. Liverpool had been through a torrid season, but were forcing save after save from the Barnsley keeper, on loan due to a keeper crisis at the South Yorkshire side. Surely they were on their way to getting something out a season practically written off by off-field distractions. But shortly into the second half Barnsley got one back and as time ticked down their fans were celebrating what would be a memorable draw and the chance of a replay back at their place. Except it wasn’t needed. Barnsley scored, in stoppage time, and Liverpool’s season got a little bit worse. It hurt. It always does in the FA Cup.
Liverpool: Itandje, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise, Benayoun, Lucas (Gerrard 75), Alonso, Babel (Kewell 69), Kuyt, Crouch
Unused subs: Martin, Pennant, Arbeloa
Bookings: Alonso, Carragher
Goals: Kuyt 32.
Barnsley: Steele, Hassell, Souza, Foster, Kozluk (Van Homoet 60), Devaney, De Silva, Howard, Leon (Campbell-Ryce 71), Ferenczi, Nardiello (Odejayi 55)
Unused subs: Coulson, Togwell
Booked: Van Homoet
Goals: Foster 57, Howard 90
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez: “I am really, really disappointed. We had chances, the keeper making fantastic saves and they scored in the last minute. Sometimes this happens in football, it is the cup. We had a lot of chances but it was the same situation as in other games, we cannot take our chances to finish games.
“I am really, really disappointed. It is difficult to explain, but it is the reality.
“I can’t blame the keeper (Itandje). The team as a team was working really hard. In terms of the work rate, you cannot blame them. When you are creating so many chances, you must approach the next game doing just the same.”
Barnsley manager Simon Davey: “There was a lack of discipline from our players, staying up there and putting in the back of net! We’re trying to keep our shape and then you’ve got ambitious players who want to go there and take the limelight!
“It’s fairytale stuff. As a player, I never played higher than League One. To take a team here against world-class players and a world-class manager and win, it’s the best for me. To score a last minute winner at the Kop end, that will live with the players all their lives.”
Barnsley striker Brian Howard: “I was whingeing at the ref I was that tired I thought I’d just kick it and if it goes in the stand it’ll waste time. I’m still away with the fairies at the moment. I might be able to describe the feeling on Monday.”
On-loan Barnsley keeper Luke Steele: “It’s been a couple of months since I played last, so obviously I was just so happy to be out there and at Anfield.”BBC Stats: (Liverpool – Barnsley)
Possession: 60% – 40%
Shots on target: 20 – 7
Shots off target: 11 – 4
Corners: 15 – 3
Fouls: 7 – 15
Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).