UEFA Champions League
17 September 1997
Second place in the Premier League in 1996 brought only a UEFA Cup place for Newcastle United, but when the Magpies finished second again in 1997, the rules had changed and the reward was a debut appearance in the UEFA Champions League.
After seeing off Croatia Zagreb in the Qualifying Round, United were drawn in Group C alongside Dynamo Kiev, PSV Eindhoven and FC Barcelona – and it was Barça, with Luis Figo, Rivaldo and Sonny Anderson in their ranks - who were first up on Tyneside.
While Kevin Keegan had moved on as manager, replaced by Kenny Dalglish, the performance against the Catalan giants was vintage Entertainers; United roaring into a 3-0 lead courtesy of a brilliant hat-trick from Faustino Asprilla.
His first came from the penalty spot after the Colombian had been brought down by visiting goalkeeper, Ruud Hesp. ‘Tino’ picked himself up to slam home a superb spot-kick.
His second owed much to the swashbuckling performance of winger Keith Gillespie; the Northern Irishman leaving Sergi Barjúan with twisted blood before crossing for Asprilla to bury a header into the roof of the net.
United repeated the trick in the second half as Gillespie again roared down the right, crossing for Asprilla to crash home his third of the night to a deafening roar at the Leazes End.
Down but not out, Barcelona fought back and reduced the deficit through Luis Enrique.
And despite Figo making it 3-2 in 89th-minute, Newcastle hung on for a famous victory.
Rob Lee, United's captain on the night, said: “This was one of the greatest nights in the club’s history and every player involved was proud to be part of it.
“It was one of those fabulous occasions where everyone takes away a memory, and we all knew we had been part of something special.
“Of course, Tino was the star of the show. That was the best I have ever seen him play.
"He not only scored the three goals, but he also worked very hard for the team.”
Newcastle United line-up
Given, Watson, Beresford, Barton, Albert, Batty, Gillespie, Lee, Asprilla, Tomasson (Peacock), Barnes (Ketsbaia)
Newcastle United (Asprilla, 22 [pen], 30, 48)
Barcelona (Luis Enrique, 72; Figo, 88)