Internazionale FC 4-1 Ipswich Town FC (Aggregate: 4-2) A Christian Vieri hat-trick helped Internazionale FC overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit to sink Ipswich Town FC 4-2 on aggregate in the UEFA Cup third round.
The Italian striker showed why he is rated among the world’s most lethal finishers with three high-quality strikes as the Serie A leaders totally outclassed the FA Premiership’s bottom club at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium. Ipswich had no answer to the pace, movement and guile of the Inter forward line which at times served up some scintillating football.
Vieiri opened his account in the 18th minute following a free-kick on the left-hand side. Emre Belözoglu's delivery was inviting and Vieri rose to glance the ball past a helpless Matteo Sereni in the Ipswich goal. Seconds later he could have doubled his tally when Sereni parried Mohamed Kallon’s fierce shot, but the forward slipped at the crucial moment with the goal gaping.
Inter were now rampant and Kallon, Javier Zanetti and Vieri again all went close before they claimed their second in the 35th minute. Vratislav Gresko's 25-metre drive cannoned off an Inter boot and sat up neatly for Vieri to hook in a sweet volley.
Shell-shocked Ipswich were left ruing some early half-chances squandered by Richard Naylor and Finidi George, but in truth there was little they could do about Inter in this sort of mood.
Manager George Burley changed things at half-time, bringing on Alun Armstrong, the goalscoring hero of the first leg, for Naylor. But any hopes of a revival were dashed within seconds of the restart when Kallon added a third from Vieri’s flick.
Kallon returned the favour in the 64th minute with an intelligent through-ball for his strike partner who saw his right-foot shot well saved by Sereni. But Vieri was not going to be denied and completed his hat-trick six minutes later. The Ipswich defence went absent without leave as the 28-year-old sprinted on to Guly’s long punt down the middle. He composed himself before rounding Sereni and rolling the ball into the empty net.
Ipswich did give their vociferous army of travelling supporters something to celebrate with a consolation ten minutes from time. Zanetti handled Matt Holland’s shot in the area and Armstong stepped up to convert the penalty. But the final cheer of the night was reserved for the home fans who witnessed the reappearance of injury-plagued striker Ronaldo as a late substitute for Vieri.
Afterwards Burley had no complaints about the result. He said: "We were well beaten. We have done really well to reach this stage and we were beaten by a very strong side."