Liverpool 0 – 1 Ipswich Town
Sunday 20th December 2000
Upon a first glance, this result may seem like one of the most surprising in Premier League history. Liverpool, giants of English and European football, beaten by now-second tier mediocrity Ipswich Town. But in actual fact, this was a season that saw The Blues finish 5th – securing a a remarkable UEFA Cup place in the process.
The campaign is still fondly remembered by Ipswich fans everywhere (and by everywhere, I mean in Suffolk), despite the fact that it was probably their unlikely European qualification that lead them to being ultimately relegated the following season – but at the time, results such as this would have ensured that their loyal supporters didn’t have a care in the world.
The Tractor Boys travelled to Liverpool having only ever won one game at Anfield in their entire history. Though Gerard Houllier’s side weren’t in the greatest shape heading into the encounter, the home side have always been capable of being a stern test for any side, especially at home. It was sure to be a hard-fought duel.
It took until the stroke of half time before either side could draw first blood, and it was Ipswich – the team that had deserved a reward for some slick passing moves throughout the half – who took the lead in incredible fashion. An electric Marcus Stewart darted in from the left wing, span inside Stephane Henchoz and rounded Sander Westerveld before hammering the ball into the corner of the net.
Though Liverpool did craft some excellent chances to equalise, with in-form striker Emile Heskey (that was almost hard to type) starting the game on the bench, they were taken poorly. It was only as the game began to draw near to the closing stages, and Heskey had entered the field, did Liverpool genuinely begin to seriously challenge Ipswich’s defensive abilities. Danny Murphy saw his long-range free-kick crash into the crossbar, Robbie Fowler had an effort desperately cleared off the line, and man of the moment Heskey failed to capitalise on a perfectly-presented 1-v-1 opportunity, all within the second half.
It quickly became apparent that it was not to be Liverpool’s day. Try as they might, Ipswich’s unparalleled first half performance was enough to see them pick up a memorable 3 points at Anfield, despite a promising Liverpool attempt to spoil their party.
Not that this result had an impact on the future of each club, mind you.