Watson does it again

Steve Watson proved that history can repeat itself with the stunning goal that ripped the Coca-Cola Cup out of Liverpool's grasp and put Newcastle through to the last eight for the first time in 20 years.

The England Under-21 man had scored the last-minute winner to steal all the points when the sides met at St James' Park at the start of the month. And tonight he came off the bench for head injury victim Les Ferdinand to chip home in magnificent style 13 minutes from time.

There seemed little on when Watson received Peter Beardsley's pass 30 yards out, with three Liverpool defenders in front of him. Watson took an age to ponder his options as Mark Wright stood off, turning outside and then in before looking up and spotting David James had strayed off his line. But from then on it was sheer class, Watson's left-footer arching beyond the despairing keeper to send the travelling Toon Army into ecstasy and Anfield into despair after witnessing only Liverpool's fourth home defeat in the history of the competition.

The Premiership clash in which Liverpool had lost despite dominating had whetted the appetite, and the teams did not disappoint in an opening period that lacked only a goal.

Newcastle's possession and direct thrust -- the reason for their 13-game unbeaten run -- carried slightly more conviction, although it was the holders who had the first opportunity, Robbie Fowler denied by Shaka Hislop after Stan Collymore's first-time ball had found him in the clear.

James then saved from Robert Lee at his near post, before the England midfielder should have put Newcastle ahead in the 14th minute. Warren Barton played in from the right touchline, Ferdinand laid off to Lee, but with only James ahead of him, Lee tried for the spectacular, curling the ball wide of the keeper but also of his upright. John Barnes forced Hislop into action as play switched to the other end, before Darren Peacock stretched out a leg as far as it could go to prevent Rob Jones' cross finding Collymore in front of goal. Collymore's flick then found Fowler, who spotted Hislop off his line and attempted a lob that the keeper, back-pedalling furiously, was delighted to see drop the wrong side of his bar.

But it was Newcastle who finished the period going forward, John Beresford's cross finding Ferdinand, but James grasping the ball above his head. Within 20 seconds of the restart Jason McAteer was booked for a foul on David Ginola -- one of a few occasions on which referee Paul Durkin ruled in the Frenchman's favour -- but after the excitement of the first half the second looked like turning into an anti-climax.

Perhaps that was due to the head injury sustained by Ferdinand after an accidental clash of heads with Wright in the 57th minute. The striker eventually rose from the stretcher to receive treatment on the touchline, but after four minutes Newcastle had to accept the inevitable, Watson coming on in an unfamiliar forward role.

Liverpool themselves suffered an injury setback when Neil Ruddock damaged his groin in robbing Beardsley. He was replaced by Mark Kennedy.

Without Ferdinand, Newcastle's attacking edge seem blunted and they appeared unbalanced, and Liverpool, sensing the tide was perhaps turning in their favour, attempted to force the win. But their only shot at goal saw Barnes firing well off-target before Watson's magic moment. Hislop saved a Steve McManaman volley as Liverpool threw everything forward in an attempt to salvage a draw, Wright operating as an emergency striker.

Watson should twice have finished it off in injury time, allowing James to save and then missing the target, but nothing could save Liverpool from their fifth defeat in six games. Steve Watson knocked the Coca-Cola Cup spinning from Liverpool's grasp at Anfield tonight -- and then admitted he scored because he had no other option. The England Under-21 player had been on the field 20 minutes as a substitute for head injury victim Les Ferdinand when he chipped past David James 13 minutes from time.

Watson, who had scored his only previous goal this season to beat Liverpool at St James' Park at the start of the month, was mobbed by his team-mates and afterwards admitted the goal was chiefly the result of a lack of support. "I got the ball off of Peter Beardsley and went forward to the edge of the box," said Watson. "I looked up to see who to pass to but there was nobody there. I just thought to myself 'oh dear'. I couldn't reach if I had tried to drill it so I went for a chip instead. Luckily enough it went in."

The goal put the Magpies through to the last eight of the competition for the first time in 20 years and Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan was not surprisingly delighted with his team's display.

"I said to the team before the game that we'd beaten Liverpool already once when we played badly and that it was time to beat them by playing well," said Keegan. "I have got a problem with Steve because I don't know what his best position is. He played superbly as a right-back for the Under-21s and then scored against Liverpool from midfield. Now he's got another goal up front but he did miss two sitters after that."

Ferdinand needed four stitches in the wound he sustained in an accidental clash of heads with Mark Wright, although the 18-goal man will be fit for Sunday's visit to Wimbledon. Keegan's delight at the fourth-round victory was added to by the venue of the game, the Anfield Stadium he graced as a player in the 1970s. "From a personal point of view it's lovely to come to a place like this and see my team play so well," said Keegan. "We deserved to win. Liverpool played their part but I felt we had the edge all the way through."

For Liverpool boss Roy Evans the loss of the trophy won last April -- courtesy of the first goal his team had conceded in the competition since then -- was a bitter pill to swallow. "It's always disappointing to lose but when it's something we won and tried so hard to keep it's an even bigger one," said the Reds' boss.

Since scoring 10 goals in a week against Manchester City, the Anfield outfit have lost five times and drawn once in November -- as well as losing their hold on the Coca-Cola Cup.

Evans, whose mood was not helped by the groin injury that rules Neil Ruddock out of Saturday's home game with former club Southampton, did not try to hide his black mood. "It's been a dismal month for us," said Evans. "October was OK and we didn't lose a game, but November has been a nightmare. It's not through any lack of effort because we work really hard but we didn't pass it that well. It's just been a nightmare."

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