Football: Coca-Cola Cup - Ipswich sweep aside United's understudies

Ipswich Town 2 Manchester United 0
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The Independent Online
Ipswich Town, struggling near the foot of the First Division, gained some measure of compensation for the disappointments of last season by knocking the League champions out of the Coca-Cola Cup with a lively and vibrant performance at Portman Road last night.

Goals by Alex Mathie and Mauricio Taricco - a stunner on the stroke of half-time - was too much for United's reshaped side. But whatever the attitude of their manager, Alex Ferguson, to this third-round tie there could be no denying Ipswich's superiority.

Like so many before them, George Burley's team have had a hard time recovering from defeat in the play-offs but this victory may be just the springboard Burley is looking for to launch another assault on the Premiership. If they make it, you can be sure United will not treat them so lightly again.

A Dutch under-21 international by the name of Bobby Petta was the architect of Ipswich's success. Signed from Feyenoord in the summer and playing more or less an old fashioned inside-left, he opened up the United defence three times in the first 15 minutes.

First, Jason Dozzell, playing his second game after returning from an unhappy sojourn at Tottenham, played a neat one-two with Petta, who was only stopped on the edge of the United area by a well-timed tackle from Phil Neville.

Then, after another fine run from Petta, Dozzell picked up the loose ball and fed Mathie, who was bundled over by United's captain David May. But to the consternation of the boisterous home crowd, referee Paul Alcock decided, erronously it seemed, that the offence had been committed outside the box.

From the free-kick, Taricco served notice of things to come with a solid drive that brought the best out of Raimond Van Der Gouw. But Ipswich did not have long to wait for justice to be done.

Petta looked to have been fouled on the Ipswich left but with United defenders hesitating and waiting for the whistle play was waved on. Dozzell picked up the loose ball and slid it through for Mathie, who beat Van Der Gouw low to his right.

United seemed taken aback not only by the goal but by the pace and quality of the Ipswich attacks. More than half-an-hour had passed before Andy Cole at last found some sort of reply for United, grazing the side netting with snapshot.

But before long United were back pedalling once more. Dozzell found Kieron Dyer racing to the byline and his cross should have been turned in by Mathie.

Moments later, however, Mathie rolled a square ball into Taricco's path and, as the United defence stood off, he curled a sublime right-footed shot past Van Der Gouw from 25 yards into the top corner.

United threw on Paul Scholes after an hour, but it proved little more than a token gesture. Cole had the ball in the net with 18 minutes to go but that was ruled offside and thereafter United ran out of ideas.

Ferguson was pleased with the more measured approach his side adopted in the second half and John Curtis, at right-back, showed considerable promise, but not surprisingly the United manager seemed far from perturbed at the result.

"The first goal was a bit of a mish mash, and the second was a bad goal to lose. But no complaints. Quite straight forward. Out of the cup."

Neither was Burley exactly beside himself with joy. "Certainly I was pleased to beat one of the best clubs in Europe. The spirit and performance were excellent" he said. But whatever the rhetoric, this will go down as a famous victory in Suffolk and rightly so.

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Wright; Dyer, Mowbray, Cundy, Taricco; Stockwell, Holland, Williams (Stein, 84), Petta (Milton, 72); Dozzell, Mathie. Substitute not used: Bracey.

Manchester United (4-2-3-1): Van Der Gouw; Curtis, May, Johnsen (Nevland, 74), P Neville; McClair, Mulryne (Irwin, 74); Poborsky, Cruyff, Thornley (Scholes, 64); Cole.

Referee: P Alcock (Surrey).