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Saturday, 23 December, 2000, 17:57 GMT
Solskjaer double crushes Ipswich
Solskjaer rounds Richard Wright to slide home his first
Manchester Utd 2-0 Ipswich

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fired a wonderful brace as Manchester United crushed Ipswich in a one-sided encounter at Old Trafford.

The forward, given a rare run in the first team, made a mockery of the suggestions of a striker crisis with an exhibition of wonderful finishing in the first half.

5 mins: Scholes sends a viscious shot just wide
20 mins: Solskjaer gives United the lead
32 mins: Solskjaer bags his second
60 mins: Healy comes on as substitute
80 mins: Healy hits the post

The match alternated between the breathtaking and the hyperventilating.

United turned on a rousing display of attacking football, giving poor Ipswich a lesson which could hinder their European ambitions.

The hosts were seeking to recover from a rare slip up at home to Liverpool on Sunday.

They spent the first 15 minutes camped in their opponents half with Paul Scholes the protagonist in every attack.

Outstanding strike

The lively midfielder sent a ferocious drive skidding past Richard Wright's left upright.

He then tried from even further out with a blistering left foot strike which was inches away from being one of the goals of the season.

Solskjaer: Two first half strikes

United's dominance deprived Ipswich of playing the spirited football which has boosted both their profile and their Premiership place.

It seemed only a matter of time before United opened the scoring and the inevitable goal arrived in the 20th minute.

Solskjaer played a wonderful one-two with Giggs on the edge of the area before rounding Wright and tapping home his seventh goal of the season.

Expertly finished

The opposing winds further stiffened for the Suffolk side with 32 minutes - courtesy of another moment of magic from the inspirational Beckham.

Ole is one of the best finishers I have known
  Alex Ferguson

The England midfielder unhinged the Ipswich rearguard with an inch-perfect ball in the direction of Solskjaer on the edge of the area.

The Norwegian striker controlled his pass in an instant before expertly slotting past the stranded Wright.

It was a goal which was richly deserved by the hosts and gave Alex Ferguson's side an unshakeable grip on the game.

Keane and Scholes were swamping the midfield and Giggs' pace was a constant threat to an Ipswich rearguard badly missing Hreidarsson. Ipswich threatened a revival of Charlton proportions as the second half got underway.

Manchester United's movement and passing is magnficent. It was part of our learning process
  Ipswich Town manager George Burley

Substitute Alan Armstrong came in from the right but his volley was well saved by Fabien Barthez.

The ball was eventually cleared after Stewart threatened to fire home the rebound.

Young Northern Ireland international David Healy entered the fray midway through the second half.

His introduction seemed to inspire the United troops with Scholes being denied by a late tackle from John McGreal,.

Phil Neville then thundered a long range effort which was brilliantly saved by Wright.

Healy himself was then denied a glorious league debut by the post after a flowing move.

The win puts the Champions eight points clear at the top of the Premiership and leaves Ipswich celebrating Christmas in a creditable fifth.

Man Utd: Barthez, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Brown, Silvestre, Beckham, Keane, Scholes, Giggs, Solskjaer, Fortune. Subs: Van Der Gouw, Healy, Irwin, Wallwork, Greening.

Ipswich: Richard Wright, Wilnis, Clapham, McGreal, Venus, Magilton, Holland, Scowcroft, Stewart, Jermaine Wright, Croft. Subs: Branagan, Johnson, Armstrong, Hreidarsson, Reuser.

Referee: S Bennett (Orpington)

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