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  Thursday, 31 October, 2002, 21:38 GMT
Ipswich edge out Liberec
Ipswich keeper Andy Marshall challengesSlovan Liberec's Miroslav Slepicka
Ipswich protected their proud European record
Ipswich 1-0 Slovan Liberec

Joe Royle's reign as Ipswich manager began with a narrow victory over Czech champions Slovan Liberec in a tightly contested second round first leg match.

A 69th-minute goal from substitute Darren Bent ensured the morale-boosting win for Royle as well as maintaining the club's 40-year unbeaten record in European competition at Portman Road.

Liberec failed to find the target but the Czech champions twice hit the bar and kept Ipswich goalkeeper Andy Marshall busy throughout to suggest the tie is still wide open.

Just before the interval Marshall made a number of key saves as Liberec showed glimpses of just why they reached last season's Uefa Cup quarter-finals.

Struggling in the First Division, Ipswich always matched Liberec and only a sloppy backpass from Wayne Brown caused any degree of panic in the opening half-hour.

At the other end, Antonin Kinsky kept the scores level with series of excellent saves.

First he flung flung himself to his right to divert Alun Armstrong's flying header that was heading for the top corner.

The Liberec keeper then held Pablo Counago's low curler and then touched Jamie Clapham's long-range attempt over the bar.

At the other end Marshall was also impressing between the sticks.

Ipswich manager Joe Royle
Royle was returning to management after 18 months

He helped over the bar Miroslav Holenak's speculative effort and then parried Ivan Hodur's accomplished volley.

Just before the interval Marshall could only watch as Hermann Hreidarsson's challenge on Nezmar ran loose to Zboncak, who inexplicably hit the bar from six yards.

At the interval Royle replaced John McGreal, who has been suffering with a knee problem recently, with Denmark Under-21 defender Thomas Gaardsoe.

The Dane was quickly into action dispossessing Hodur to halt a threatening Liberec attack.

Bent finally ended the deadlock volleying home Armstrong's cross.

That lead should have been short-lived as Marshall completely missed Zboncak's cross, but Baffour's eader ball bounced off the turf and onto the bar and Nezmar blazed over the rebound.

Ipswich: Marshall, Makin, McGreal (Gaardsoe 45), Brown, Hreidarsson, Ambrose (George 78), Magilton, Holland, Clapham, Counago (Darren Bent 65), Armstrong.
Subs Not Used: Pullen, Miller, Wright, Wilnis.

Booked: Gaardsoe.

Liberec: Kinsky, Zapotocny, Miroslav Holenak, Lukas, Janu, Capek (Slovak 74), Hodur (Ancic 79), Polak, Martin Zboncak, Slepicka (Gyan 57), Nezmar.
Subs Not Used: Hauzr, Holosko, Blaha, Papousek.

Booked: Zapotocny.

Attendance: 16,138.

Referee: Philippe Leuba (Switzerland).

BBC Five Live's David Oates
"The goal was simple but beautifully created"
Ipswich boss Joe Royle
"The wealth here is the players"

Second round, 2nd leg

Second round, 1st leg


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