Last Saturday, Liverpool hosted QPR in the English Premier League and managed to secure a 2-1 victory after a tense contest. The next day, the league championship was decided with a few games to spare when Chelsea beat Crystal Palace 1-0.
Back in April 1990, the same thing happened, except on the same day and in the same fixture, and, indeed, with the same scoreline.
Liverpool were in a tight race with Aston Villa for the old First Division title. The Reds were just ahead of the West Midlands club, holding onto a two point lead in the table with a game in hand. If Liverpool could win their game against QPR, and if Villa dropped points in their home fixture against Norwich City, LFC would claim their 18th league championship.
The home side were wary heading into the game. Liverpool knew the title was within their grasp, yet this was no different than last season when the club conceded the league in spectacular fashion in a 0-2 home loss to Arsenal. Moreover, QPR has already beaten Liverpool at home in Loftus Road. Needless to say, Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish and his team were taking nothing for granted.
Things got off to a rocky start for the Reds when QPR took the lead in the 14th minute thanks to a header from Roy Wegerle. The Hoops continued to exert pressure through the first half, nearly scoring a second goal but for the crossbar. Despite their attempt to control the game, the power of Ian Rush’s mustache was too much for them, and the Welshman equalized from a tight angle in the 40th minute.
The decisive moment came in the 65th minute when Steve Nicol was brought down inches inside the penalty area. John Barnes stepped up to the spot and converted it with purpose, making it 2-1 to Liverpool with the clock winding down.
Meanwhile, fans in the ground were hearing through that old standby end-of-football-season technology—transistor radios—that Aston Villa were drawn level with Norwich 3-3. If both scorelines held, Liverpool would take the title.
Liverpool did their bit—the final whistle blew at Anfield with the score 2-1. Players and fans however milled about in the stands waiting for the final word on Villa-Norwich match. Finally, word spread that Villa had drawn 3-3, meaning that Liverpool were Champions of England for the 18th time.
They haven’t won the league title since. Instead, this weekend Liverpool travel to Stamford Bridge to play the newly-crowned champions Chelsea, where they plan to give the new title holders a guard of honor, even though José Mourinho would prefer they not;. Neither, perhaps, would some Liverpool fans, some not old enough to remember their last league triumph twenty-five years ago.