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Liverpool v. Nottingham Firest
Event 1987–88 First Division
Date 13 April 1988
Venue Anfield, Liverpool
Referee Roger Milford (Bristol)
Attendance 39,535

On 13 April 1988, with the 1987–88 season drawing to an end, Liverpool played Nottingham Forest three times in the space of twelve days. The first game, on 2 April, was a League game at Forest's City Ground, with the home team winning 2–1. A week later the two teams met at Hillsborough in an FA Cup semi-final – this time Liverpool were winners, by the same score. The third meeting was the return league fixture at Anfield, four days later. Liverpool were lying top of the league, with Forest six points behind in third place. Liverpool won the match 5–0,[1] putting distance behind them and their title rivals. Their performance is considered to be one of the best in English football history,[citation needed] and the most memorable from a team considered to be one of Liverpool's best.[2][3][4][5]


Liverpool had finished the previous season trophyless, and lost star striker Ian Rush to Juventus. Manager Kenny Dalglish acted to sign three new forwards – Ray Houghton from Oxford United, John Barnes from Watford and Peter Beardsley from Newcastle United. They joined John Aldridge who had signed in April, and now took Rush's place in the team. The new attacking line-up gelled immediately, as Liverpool remained unbeaten until the 30th game of the season,[6] and had already, by April, scored 4 goals in a match no fewer than 10 times.


Liverpool dominated the match from start to finish,[3] and took the lead in the eighteenth minute. Alan Hansen won the ball in his own half, and played a through-ball to Ray Houghton, who ran diagonally towards the opposition penalty area. He played a one-two with John Barnes, before beating Des Walker and lifting the ball over goalkeeper Steve Sutton under pressure from close range. The second goal also began in Liverpool's half – Peter Beardsley received the ball, and in one motion played in a long-distance pass in front of John Aldridge, who was between two defenders. Aldridge ran onto the pass, and clipped it over the advancing 'keeper from the edge of the area. In the second half, Liverpool made it 3–0, an unmarked Gary Gillespie smashing a John Aldridge cross into the roof of the net from inside the penalty area in the 58th minute. The fourth goal came in the 79th minute. The move started on the left wing, Barnes beat two defenders before approaching the penalty area, and cutting the ball back to an advancing Beardsley, who hit a low drive into the bottom right-hand corner. Liverpool rounded off the scoring in the 88th minute – a long ball from Bruce Grobbelaar was cleared by Steve Chettle, but Nigel Spackman won the ball back as Forest tried to move forward. He continued running into the area and received the ball back from Beardsley, before cutting the ball across for Aldridge to score his second from close range.[1][7]


John Motson, who was commentating on the game, described it as "almost fantasy football".[8] Liverpool's performance was described by former England international Tom Finney as "the finest exhibition of attacking football ever seen".,[2] while former European Footballer of the Year Michel Platini said Liverpool resembled "a continental team, not an English one".[9] In his 1999 autobiography, John Barnes said it was "the best Liverpool performance he ever played in.[10]


Liverpool secured their 17th league title a week later, with a 0–0 draw against Norwich City.[11] They were denied a double, however, with a surprise defeat against Wimbledon in the FA Cup Final.[12] Liverpool and Nottingham Forest met again in more tragic circumstances a year later, in another FA Cup semi-final which was the scene of the Hillsborough disaster.

Match details[edit]

13 April 1988 (1988-04-13)
19:30 BST
Liverpool 5–0 Nottingham Forest
Houghton Goal 18'
Aldridge Goal 37' Goal 88'
Gillespie Goal 58'
Beardsley Goal 79'
Anfield, Liverpool
Attendance: 39,535
Referee: Roger Milford (Bristol)
Nottingham Forest
GK 1 Zimbabwe Bruce Grobbelaar
CB 2 Scotland Gary Gillespie
LB 3 England Gary Ablett
RB 4 Scotland Steve Nicol
CM 5 England Nigel Spackman
CB 6 Scotland Alan Hansen (c)
CF 7 England Peter Beardsley
CF 8 Republic of Ireland John Aldridge
RM 9 Republic of Ireland Ray Houghton Substituted off 85'
LM 10 England John Barnes
CM 11 England Steve McMahon Substituted off 78'
MF 12 England Craig Johnston Substituted in 85'
MF 14 Denmark Jan Mølby Substituted in 78'
Scotland Kenny Dalglish
GK 1 England Steve Sutton
RB 2 England Steve Chettle
LB 3 England Stuart Pearce (c)
CB 4 England Des Walker Substituted off 46'
CB 5 England Colin Foster
CM 6 Scotland Terry Wilson
RM 7 England Gary Crosby
CM 8 England Neil Webb
CF 9 England Nigel Clough
CF 10 England Lee Glover
LM 11 Scotland Brian Rice
FW 12 Republic of Ireland Tommy Gaynor
DF 14 England Darren Wassall  Substituted in 46'
England Brian Clough


  1. ^ a b "Liverpool 5-0 Nottingham Forest". Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Henry Winter (5 December 2005). "The greatest English side ever". Liverpool F.C. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Peter Beardsley". Liverpool F.C. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  4. ^ Ian Ladyman (11 March 2009). "Perfect 10: Liverpool's greatest glory nights – from Anfield to Istanbul". Daily Mail. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  5. ^ "Kenny Dalglish". Liverpool F.C. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  6. ^ "John Barnes". Liverpool F.C. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  7. ^ "BBC World Service Sports Roundup transcript". Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  8. ^ Neil Jones (22 December 2008). "Fantasy Football – A Whole New Ball Game". Soccer Lens. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  9. ^ Ronan George (18 December 2009). "From The Archive – Liverpool 5–0 Nottingham Forest – April 17, 1988". a different league. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  10. ^ John Barnes (1999). John Barnes: The Autobiography. Headline Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-7472-2194-4. 
  11. ^ "Norwich City 0 – 0 Liverpool". LFC History. 20 February 1988. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  12. ^ "Liverpool 0 – 1 Wimbledon". LFC History. 14 May 1988. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 

External links[edit]