GGM 35: Nicholas double wins Littlewoods Cup

When Ian Rush scored, Liverpool didn't lose. Until the 1987 Littlewoods Cup Final, that is.

George Graham's first season in charge at Highbury had already been a positive one. A new generation of talent was emerging at Arsenal and they had briefly topped the table en route to a promising fourth-place finish. Reaching a Wembley showpiece was a bonus.

They did it in style, sending Tottenham packing thanks to David Rocastle's late goal in the Semi-Final replay at White Hart Lane. But Arsenal would be underdogs in the Final against the reigning champions and the dominant force of the decade - Liverpool.

The prolific Rush's extraordinary record loomed large when he fired the favourites in front after 23rd minute. The Welsh striker had been on the scoresheet in almost 150 games for Liverpool and had lost none of them. But Arsenal's young bucks were not fazed by records, however daunting.

On the stroke of half-time Charlie Nicholas prodded a gilt-edged chance against the post but was on hand to convert a second opportunity when a low cross was delivered across the six-yard box seconds later.

The scores remained level until seven minutes from time. Substitute Perry Groves outpaced Gary Gillespie and found Nicholas, whose first-time shot took a wicked deflection and rolled beyond Bruce Grobbelaar.

Liverpool could not respond and Kenny Sansom, donning a unsightly Gunners cap, led his team up the famous Wembley steps to collect the Littlewoods Cup. After a barren spell, Graham had brought the good times back to Highbury.

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