A well-taken volley from substitute Darren Bent on 67 minutes gave Ipswich Town FC a 1-0 win against Czech champions FC Slovan Liberec in the first leg of their UEFA Cup second-round tie.
Jim Magilton in a central area found Alun Armstrong on the left. He crossed to substitute Bent making a run into the area who volleyed past Kinsky to make it 1-0. Slovan had their chances to score but the home side, in their first game under new manager Joe Royle, defended well and will travel to the Czech Republic in a fortnight confident of securing an aggregate win.
The first meaningful chance before the break fell to Ipswich's Darren Ambrose on eleven minutes after goalkeeper Antonín Kinsky punched a Jamie Clapham cross at his feet, but the youngster scuffed his shot from 12 metres.
On 20 minutes Ipswich keeper Andy Marshall failed to deal with a back-pass, but managed to scramble the ball clear. Then, a minute later, Armstrong forced Kinsky into an instinctive save with a powerful diving header. Ipswich should have taken the lead on the half-hour when an in-swinging Clapham cross found Armstrong, who, unmarked and with time to control the ball, poked wide.
Clapham again went close with a fierce shot on 37 minutes and three minutes later a shot of similar power by Tomáš Zápotocny from 30 metres forced Marshall to tip over. But perhaps the best chance of the half came just before the interval. Martin Zboncák hit the crossbar from five metres after the ball had been flicked down by Miroslav Slepicka.
Slovan started the second half brightly, playing quick, tidy football. However, the outcome of the game was decided in the space of two minutes. First the home side went 1-0 up on 67 minutes, then, from the restart, the visitors charged up the pitch and substitute Baffour Gyan headed against the Ipswich crossbar.
Royle was delighted to make a winning start. "It wasn’t difficult to prepare for the match," he said. "There was so many pleasing things about the performance. We had a bit of luck though but we had a level of performance that even on a bad day would have given us the chance of a result."
'We had the chances'
Slovan coach Ladislav Škorpil admitted: "The players can play better than they did tonight. We had the chances to win the game but the players tried their best.”
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