since 1878

Inter Milan (2) 4 - 1 (0) Ipswich Town

UEFA Cup 3rd Round, 2nd Leg 2001-02

Thursday, December 6, 2001

Referee: Unknown

Manager: Unknown

San Siro

Attendance: 25,358

Manager: George Burley

Match Number: 2925


 Vieri (18)
 Vieri (34)
 Kallon (46)
 Vieri (70)
 Alun Armstrong (79)


EmreSergio Conceicao (89)
VieriRonaldo (79)






Javier Zanetti

Ivan Cordoba

Di Biagio


Okan Buruk


Emre Belezoglu






Sergio Conceicao







Match Report

Woeful defending as Inter cruise to victory

Ipswich's European tour came to an end in the spectacular San Siro stadium against Inter Milan. It was all a bit too easy for the Italians, who ran out 4-1 winners, taking the tie 4-2 on aggregate.

This was a match where Ipswich started well, and finished well. It's just a great shame about the other 70 minutes in between, where woeful defending meant Inter (like Arsenal last weekend) didn't have to work very hard to cruise to victory. Ipswich's line up wasn't exactly what we expected, or wanted. Lone striker Richard Naylor was picked to play up front on his own, ahead of a packed five-man midfield. Sixto Peralto was left on the bench, and in his place came Jim Magilton. Finidi George also came in on the right of midfield. Inter had recalled Christian Vieri for the match, and had an amazing £60 million worth of talent sitting on their bench. Having recently had a shock defeat in the Italian Cup, this competition had gained importance for the home team. The match kicked off with the estimated 10,000 Tractor barmy army fired up and willing the team on. And in the opening exchanges, there were real signs that we may actually be able to pull it off. It only took a minute for us to have our first attack on the Inter goal, with Titus Bramble heading a Mark Venus free kick over the bar. A confident looking Ipswich team were stroking the ball around well, and soon the pace of Finidi had the Inter defence on the run. The Nigerian rounded the left back and fired an angled shot, which was deflected away. It took Inter 15 minutes to even have their first pop at goal, a weakish effort from Kallon that Sereni saved comfortably.

Inter were hardly troubling Ipswich, but minutes later our bubble was abruptly burst. A mix up in defence meant an Inter attack that should have been easily cleared, gained momentum when Okun found space down the left. Bramble weighed in with a tackle that was deemed a foul, and from a position close to the corner flag, Emre curled in a ball that Vieri glanced into the net with his head. It looked a terribly weak goal to concede, with what was Inter's first real attack on goal. I'm not sure if the goal affected Town's play, or Inter just relaxed having got the vital first goal. But either way, the writing was on the wall. Inter began to carve the Ipswich defence open with ease, as chance after chance was created. Our Italian keeper pulled off a blinder of a save to deny Kallon from close range, and Vieri nearly scored with a cheeky chip that Sereni just got his hand to. A penalty appeal was turned down when the impressive Kallon galloped away and nearly outpaced Bramble. The youngster's last-ditch tackle looked to have taken out both man and ball, but the ref thankfully waved play on as Kallon writhed around on the floor. On the half hour mark, we had one golden opportunity that could have changed the match. An error by the Italian defence allowed Naylor to race through to a one-on-one with only the keeper to beat. But he took far too long with the ball, and was caught. He turned back, but was still unable to get in a decent shot. For me, that one moment summed up why Naylor will never be a great striker. You have to take these chances when you get them, and he didn't even manage a proper shot. It was the sort of chance that was a striker's dream, and Naylor seemed hesitant. I'm convinced any other striker- Counago, Armstrong, even Darren Bent, would have pounced and buried it. If only Stewie was playing- he'd have scored it with his eyes shut. Inevitably, five minutes later Inter doubled their lead. A free kick powered in by Zanetti took a bounce off Bramble and went straight towards Vieri. The striker showed just why he is considered one of the best in the world when he swivelled with back to the goal, and let fly with a scorcher. Ipswich managed to keep the score down to two at half time, and despite the collapse we knew that one goal would still see us leading the tie on away goals. But it didn't take long for all hope to evaporate. A long hopeful punt moments after the restart by Inter, sealed our fate. It was the type of ball that should be bread and better to any defence, but somehow, Vieri and Kallon combined so the later could fire his team three up. The game was all over, although Town did try to strike back. A good move saw substitute Armstrong steal in with a shot that was brilliantly save by Toldo, although the flag had actually gone up for offside. A couple of minutes later a good run and cross by Hreidarsson picked out George, but he failed to connect cleanly and the chance was gone. Inter took control again, and chances from Vieri, Di Biagio and Kallon threaten Sereni's goal. Another brilliant save from the Tractor Boy's number one kept Vieri at bay, but not for long. With twenty minutes remaining, Vieri scored his hat trick as he out ran the Ipswich defence, and coolly rounded Sereni. The final ten to fifteen minutes were by far our best, as the players looked for the consolation goal. Peralta came on along with Counago, and immediately livened things up. With ten minutes remaining, a Holland shot struck the arm of Zanetti, and the ref blew up for a penalty. It was perhaps a bit harsh on Inter, but we've not exactly had much luck as far as penalties go this season, so this one was well over due. Alan Armstrong became our new penalty taker in Stewie's absence, and tucked it way neatly. At last the Town masses something to celebrate, and even though it was a lucky penalty, seeing the ball hit the back of the net in the San Siro was a magic sight. The final ten minutes belonged to Ipswich, although a second goal didn't come. The Italians actually looked rattled for the first time, and resorted to the old familiar tactics they are renowned for. Holland was involved in a bit of argy bargy, and Hreidarsson was struck in the face when the ref's back was turned. Armstrong was next to in line, as Toldo had a go him moments later. But the clock soon wound down, and as far as Ipswich were concerned, our efforts were too little, too late. So our Uefa Cup run has come to an end. Despite the result most fans were upbeat, savouring the experience. The thing that was most disappointing was the way we let Inter win without a fight. At the end of the day, you have to remember that Inter are, without doubt, on current form one of the best teams in the world. Out of English teams, only Man Utd or Arsenal could live with them. But the manner of our defeat was still frustrating. It could have been a different story if only we hadn't have conceded so early, but we did, and the tactics employed by Burley were questioned. Playing Naylor up front on his own just didn't work, and was seen by many as negative. The two players everyone would have loved to have seen start, were Peralta and Armstrong. I suppose if they were fitness doubts, their absence was understandable. Armstrong made such a difference when he came on, and he really showed what a great player he can be. There is so much more to his game than initially meets the eye, and with him on the pitch the Italian defence felt a bit of pressure. With Premier League survival now being the prime goal of the reminder of the season, exiting this competition may not be a bad thing, although it would have been nice to give the Italians a little more of a scare.

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