since 1878

Ipswich Town (1) 1 - 0 (0) Inter Milan

UEFA Cup 3rd Round, 1st Leg 2001-02

Thursday, November 22, 2001

Referee: Unknown

Manager: George Burley

Portman Road

Attendance: 24,569

Manager: Unknown

Match Number: 2921


 Alun Armstrong (81)


Di BiagioGeorgatos (76)
Emre BelezogluSergio Conceicao (67)
VentolaAdriano (56)






Javier Zanetti

Ivan Cordoba

Di Biagio



Cristiano Zanetti

Emre Belezoglu







Sergio Conceicao






Match Report

Armstrong goal pulls off historic victory

Ronaldo? Who needs him, when you've got big Alun Armstrong! Ipswich defied the odds and recent form, to pull off a victory that will go down in history. The Tractor Boys overcame Italian giants Inter Milan 1-0 at Portman Road, in the first leg of the Uefa Cup tie…

Where do you start? I'm still trying to come to terms with this remarkable result myself. During one of the worst runs in the club's history, even die-hard Town fans wondered what the damage would be, after facing one of the largest and richest clubs in the world. Not only are they big, Inter are also rather good, currently flying high in Serie A and favourites to be crowned champions. But the Super Blues produced a skilful, battling performance that belied our lowly Premier League position, and had the Italians on the back foot for most of the ninety minutes. A truly perfect evening was completed nine minutes from time, when Alun Armstrong came off the bench to score, and send the Portman Road crowd loopy. Burley again made some more unexpected changes to the line up. Clapham was brought in from the cold to replace Reuser (that may make him think twice about clearing off) and Jermaine Wright replaced the injured Magilton. Up front, Richard Naylor was given the nod ahead of Darren Bent. As always, Town started brightly, and set out their stall by passing around the Italians. After five minutes, the first real chance came when Titus Bramble maybe should have done better. He flashed the ball across the goal, after a Venus free kick. You could visually see Milan's technical ability, and they quickly prized the Ipswich defence apart with some nifty passing. But our own Town Italian hero Sereni was there to deny £11 million man Nicola (yes, he is a bloke) Ventola with a cracking save. There were half chances for both teams, but generally Ipswich were looking the hungrier and stronger team. Counago was holding the ball up magnificently up front, and looking a shadow of the player who has struggled in recent months. The defence hadn't conceded any stupid goals either, and made a very pleasant change. At half time the Town players went off to a rapturous applause, although there was always the feeling Milan could be about to wake up. But that never happened, and after the break Town really had a go at their opponents. On fifty minutes, Portman Road held it's breath. Peralta fed Counago with a lovely pass, and the Spaniard turned his man brilliantly to find space to shoot. But unfortunately the shot didn't match the build up, as Counago donkied his shot embarrassingly high and wide. But heads didn't drop, and the chances became more frequent. Holland, Wright and Peralta all had good opportunities, but just couldn't take them. Inter had their best opportunity just after the break, when a teasing Seedorf cross caused all sorts of problems, but fortunately the ball was scrambled away. Despite Town's domination, there was the growing feeling on the terraces that the goal just wasn't going to come. The Italians were defending more doggedly, and picked up several bookings into the bargain. There is no doubt we had really rattled the Italians, and their main priority had become to hold on for a 0-0 draw. But with nine minutes to go, Alun Armstrong, who had replaced the hard working Naylor, scored the goal that will long be remembered. Pablo Counago darted in the penalty area on another dangerous run. He seemed to lose the ball, but showed grit by lunging in with a last ditch challenge that sent the ball out to Clapham. The wingback cut back on his favoured foot and swung in a perfect cross. Big Al shook off the challenge of Georgatos to head past the flapping Toldo. What a sweet moment it was, and how Portman Road celebrated. Months of pent-up frustration was finally released from long suffering supporters, and the noise and celebration was similar to that experienced when Super Jim's equalised against Bolton in the Play-offs. After the goal Milan suddenly showed an urgency to score, and automatically became more adventurous. But that only played into Town's hands, who mopped up everything and nearly scored a priceless second. Firstly our Danish new boy Thomas Gaardsoe nearly scored a spectacular goal with his first touch, as he attempted a cheeky lob from the half way line. Minutes later, Jamma came so close with a shot that just drifted wide, after good work from substitute Reuser. The final whistle was blown, and we had done it. This is probably the biggest scalp I have seen us take at Portman Road, and will never forget it. We know we haven't won anything, and it will be much tougher in Italy. Inter are still favourites, but they won't be able to take away this match. No one gave Town a hope, and we proved the doubters wrong. There were great performances from everyone- it was the old familiar Ipswich team performance. Makin, Bramble, Wright, Peralta and Herman all caught my eye with above average performances, but Counago was my man of the match. He is really looking a handful for defenders now, and in this match he was up against some of the best in the business. If he can carry that form in the Premier League (and that goes for the whole team) he'll be a success soon. And we have finally won at home! For the first time in ages Town got it right at Portman road in front of live cameras. But this game was not only viewed in England, it was beamed live to 24 other countries. The gospel according to St George will soon have new followers all over the world. I've spoken to two ‘neutrals' since the game, who have told me ‘it was quite a dull game'. That's not how I, or the other 24,000 Towns saw it. It was a confident, committed, flowing, passionate performance against top draw opposition. In truth, there probably wasn't much in the way of exciting goalmouth action, but who cares? This was our night, and one we'll never forget. And it also set's it up rather nicely for the San Siro!

From The Terrace

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