It isn’t all that popular to have two strikers up front these days, but Manchester United – and many other teams – pulled it off in the 1990s and early Noughties.
We look back at some of the great strike partnerships of modern times.
Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole (Manchester United)
Yorke and Cole banged the goals in for in the Premier League, but when they came together for United, they were unstoppable. Cole wasn’t even Sir Alex Ferguson’s first choice to partner Yorke. He wanted Patrick Kluivert, who wasn’t interested in a move to Old Trafford, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to play alongside Yorke.
But he started Cole for a run-of-the-mill game against Southampton in October 1998, and the pair got on like a house on fire. United bagged 14 goals in the next three games and of the 36 games they started together that season, Fergie’s side only lost once. The pair grabbed 53 goals between them and catapulted United to Treble glory. Interestingly, neither was on the pitch when United beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final, that was left to Solskjaer and Sheringham.
Cole’s goal against Barcelona at the Nou Camp perfectly sums up just how lethal the pair were when they came together. Poetry in motion.
Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush (Liverpool)
Dalglish was waning somewhat in 1981. He hadn’t scored at Anfield in the first 10 months of the year, and Bob Paisley produced a masterstroke to prolong Dalglish’s career as a sensational player.
Dalglish had suggested to Paisley that he should move back into midfield, but the great boss was having none of it, opting to keep him at the focal point of attack.
That was until Ian Rush came along from Chester. Paisley chose to play the more mobile Rush up top, with Dalglish just behind, exploiting the space left by his strike partner. Rush scored 30 goals in all competitions in the 1980-81 season, 31 the next, and a farcical 47 in 1983-84, when the pair bagged 59 between them. Woof.
Marcelo Salas and Christian Vieri (Lazio)
A pretty hipster choice for the list, with this pair only playing one season together and scoring 15 goals a piece. But not only were they wearing a disgracefully gorgeous football kit, they also almost delivered the title to Lazio. In the 1998-99 season, Lazio ran Milan close, missing out on the Serie A by a meagre point.
Filippo Inzaghi and Alessandro del Piero (Juventus)
If the poaching skills of Inzaghi combined with the ingenuity of Del Piero wasn’t enough, Zinedine Zidane was pinging balls around behind the pair back in the late 1990s.
They had an exceptional Kappa kit, and backed it up by scoring for fun, combining to score 39 goals between them one season.
Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton (Blackburn)
The original SAS did one thing exceptionally well: scoring goals. Shearer and Sutton scored enough goals to propel Blackburn to the Premier League title in 1995 (the club’s first since 1914). They chipped in with 49 goals between them that season, but were the Gerrard-Lampard conundrum of England’s front line.
Romario and Hristo Stoichkov (Barcelona)
If your club was in the market for shit loads of goals in the 1990s, there was one striker you could rely on: Romario. He spent two years at Barcelona and, with Stoichkov, tore it up. Like Dalglish, the fiery Bulgarian scored 16 times from the pocket behind Romario, who chimed in with 30 La Liga goals in the 1993-94 season.
Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips (Sunderland)
OK, so most of the list has been of players plying their trade at Europe’s top clubs, but the classic little-and-large combination at Sunderland is more than worthy of its place. In the 1999-2000 season Quinn and Phillips netted 34 goals between them. Phillips even won the European Golden Shoe.
Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal)
Two utterly magnificent footballers in such different ways, but by God did they work well together. It’s hard to think of a player with better technique than Bergkamp, the expert in manipulating defenders with trickery and vision. It’s also hard to think of a better out-and-out striker than Henry, whose pace, strength and ability to score from pretty much anywhere made him unstoppable at times. These two would provide the goals in Arsenal’s Invincibles campaign. Enough said.
Diego Tristan and Roy Makaay (Deportivo La Coruna)
Remember when Deportivo were actually really good? In 1999-2000 they stunned La Liga by breaking Barcelona’s stranglehold and lifting the title. Makaay and Diego Tristan chipped in with 37 goals that season. Pretty, pretty good.
Ronaldo and Raul (Real Madrid)
Defenders were quaking in their boots when this pair lined up in the 2002-03 season. Real Madrid won a (sort of) treble, by taking the Intercontinental Cup, La Liga and the Super Cup trophies. Ronaldo and Raul plundered 39 league goals between them that season.
Hulk and Radamel Falcao (Porto)
This is not a joke. Falcao may be the laughing stock of the Premier League after seriously underwhelming spells at Manchester United and Chelsea, but when he was at Porto he was among the best strikers in Europe.
Porto won a quadruple in 2011, with Falcao and Hulk contributing an eye watering 74 goals between the two of them. Madness.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Eider Gudjohnsen
One came from Atletico Madrid and the other from Bolton, but both slid seamlessly into Chelsea’s side in the 2000-01 season, scoring 39 times between them. Hasselbaink won the Premier League golden boot that season with 23 goals.