Premier League --- 20 / 10 / 1996 --- St. James' Park
The defending champions came to town having not conceded a goal in nine hours and nine minutes of football, with the seemingly unbeatable frame of Peter Schmeichel the keystone of an impressive United back line.
Kevin Keegan's 'Entertainers' couldn't boast such an impressive defensive record but their 'score-one-more-than-you' attitude had put them on a run of six league wins and the Magpies were in no mood to lie down for Alex Ferguson's side. The Toon were a wounded animal, having thrown away a supposedly unassailable twelve point lead over the Red Devils the previous season and then been thrashed four-nil at Wembley in the Charity Shield by the same team at the start of this one, revenge was the dish of the day.
Keegan's men had their pride on the line, they didn't want to win, they wanted to make a statement and avenge the mistakes of the previous term.
Newcastle were out of the traps in a flash and had an early reward when Alan Shearer nodded David Ginola's corner back across the box to the waiting Darren Peacock. The ball bobbled into the goal and despite Denis Irwin's clearance and Schmeichel's protests the goal was given and the Toon were ahead.
There was no arguing with the second goal of the game as Ginola produced a memorable strike to double the lead. The Frenchman received the ball on the edge of the box and with his back to goal he shouldered off Gary Neville to make half a yard and unleashed a vicious strike that rocketed into the net.
The second half continued in much the same vein when the irrepressible Shearer smashing the post before Nicky Butt and David Batty were booked for trying to smash each other. Shearer's influence was plain for all to see and he set up Newcastle's third after finding space on the right flank, sprinting past Irwin and knocking back a pin-point cross for Les Ferdinand who's headed effort pin-balled off bar and post before settling in the net.
Newcastle were away and weren't going to be caught. Shearer got a deserved goal of his own in the 70th minute starting and finishing a move that proved Newcastle's attacking nature. A magnificent double save from Schmeichel may have been enough to thwart most teams but with Newcastle's embarrassment of attacking riches there was always going to be someone to tap the ball into the net and this time it was the Geordie number nine.
St. James' Park was in awe of the performance they had seen from their team but what they were unaware what they were to see next would become an iconic image of both their club and of the Premier League. Defender Phillipe Albert picked up the ball in the centre of the pitch and dashed towards the box. Schmeichel took a step forward and Albert sent an audacious chip goalwards, leaving the Danish keeper rooted to the spot as a packed house were sent into ecstasy.
The game has been refereed to as Keegan's greatest managerial achievement and it seemed the manager agreed, resigning from his position a couple of months later stating he believed he had taken the club as far as he could.
Alex Ferguson blamed jet lag and then bizarrely claimed his side were unlucky not to score five of their own but things weren't to get much better for the Manchester United manager as his side lost 6-2 to Southampton in the very next game.
Newcastle were unable to capitalise on their memorable victory as they finished second to Manchester United for the second successive season but did, in the process, qualify for the debut season in UEFA's rebranded European Cup, the Champions League.
TOONPEDIA ARTICLE #3