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The Electronic Telegraph 6 March 1995 Match Reports     
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Five-goal Cole is the Mark of United Perfection

William Johnson savours 9-0 romp that made history for Manchester

Man Utd (3) 9 Ipswich (0) 0
Cole 19, 37, 53, 65, 87, Hughes 55, 59, Ince 72, Keane 15.


IN MANY ways it was relieving to see a Mark Hughes drive crash against the crossbar, a sparkling Paul Ince effort cleared off the line and several other goal-bound shots and headers blocked by Craig Forrest, a hard-working Ipswich goalkeeper.

Had any of those missed opportunities found a way into the Ipswich net, Manchester United would have emerged from a remarkable Old Trafford afternoon with a perfect 10. And it is impossible to find fault with perfection.

A magnificent haul of nine was still good enough in the eyes of United's delighted manager Alex Ferguson to warrant the use of such superlatives. This was the club's biggest victory for over a century.

Tactically, in the context of a private duel for supremacy with Blackburn Rovers' Kenny Dalglish, Ferguson was correct in sending threatening messages to the rival camp, but the nagging feeling as this richly entertaining spectacle unfolded was that Ipswich were devaluing United's brilliance by refusing to offer even token resistance.

Relegated already in the eyes of many experts, Ipswich appeared to pin their hopes on frustrating United and on snatching a solitary goal like the one which brought them a shock victory at Liverpool in the first month of George Burley's short managerial reign.

What followed was probably the most lamentable display ever seen in the Premiership

That plan was scuppered inside 20 minutes as Andy Cole plundered the first of his five goals to supplement a well-taken opener by Roy Keane. Two behind against a team who had surrendered only three home league goals all season convinced Ipswich's experienced line-up that there was no way back, and what followed was probably the most lamentable display ever seen in the Premiership.

As United surged to what looked likely to be double figures, the Ipswich supporters began chanting "we want one" with gallows humour that summed up their team's plight.

All credit, though, to Cole for sensing the opportunity to get even with those who have questioned his worthiness to wear the £7 million label of Britain's most expensive footballer.

The striker was whacked on the ankle by David Linighan in scoring his second goal eight minutes before the interval after another spectacular Hughes volley had rocked the bar, but he vigorously contested Ferguson's suggestion that he should not come out for the second half with the points already secure.

"I sensed a hat-trick was there for the taking and I was determined to get one," he said, not believing that he would go on to amass his biggest haul in what has been an explosive career.

Cole was insistent that it was his goal

Most of a captivated crowd of 43,804 - by one click of the turnstiles the biggest gate in the country this season - were unsure that the hat-trick had been completed eight minutes into the second half. The scoreboard operator decided that Denis Irwin's cross had been bundled across the line by the man who left Newcastle in dramatic circumstances in January, but the consensus at the time was that Frank Yallop had inadvertently diverted the ball over his own line.

Cole was insistent that it was his goal, and television pictures indicated that he will keep it when any commission meets to adjudicate.

There was no doubt about his next strike, United's seventh, which wiped out a deficit on Blackburn in terms of goal difference and may ultimately decide the destiny of the title. Cole showed typical penalty box alertness to score on the rebound after Brian McClair's initial shot had been well saved by Forrest.

By then the indefatigable Hughes had scored two goals, which were scant reward for his contribution to the slaughter - a precise angled drive and an opportunist header after Ryan Giggs's intention of adding a solo spectacular had been thwarted.

The eighth goal would have created an outcry in any well-balanced contest, but there was no more than a collective shrug of the shoulders from Ipswich after Paul Ince's chip from a quick free-kick was allowed to stand as Forrest was being cautioned by the referee for handball outside the penalty area.

Fittingly Cole rounded off the rout with the type of goal which helped him to forge his formidable reputation. Facing the wrong way when Gary Pallister's downward header arrived at his feet on the six-yard line, he swivelled like a ballet dancer to deliver the coup de grace.

Manchester Utd:
Schmeichel; Keane (Sharpe 45), Bruce (Butt 78),
Pallister, Irwin; Kanchelskis, Ince,
McClair, Giggs; Cole, Hughes.
Sub: Walsh.
Keane (15)
Cole (19, 37, 53, 65, 87)
Hughes (55, 59)
Ince (72)

Ipswich Town: Forrest; Yallop, Wark, Linighan, Thompson; Palmer, Williams, Sedgley, Slater; Chapman (Marshall 63), Mathie. Subs: Morgan (g), Mason. Booked: Linighan, Forrest.
Referee: G Poll (Tilehurst).

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These are the records set in
Manchester United's 9-0 win:

* Biggest win in Premier League.
Previous best 7-1:
Blackburn v Norwich, Oct 1992
Newcastle v Swindon, March 1994
Aston Villa v Wimbledon, Feb 1995.

* Andy Cole's five goals set
   Premier League record.
Previous best four by Efan Ekoku
for Norwich (5-1 at Everton, Sept 1993)

* United's biggest top-division win
for 103 years, since 10-1 v Wolves
(at North Road, Manchester)
in Oct 1892.

* Cole's five the highest individual score in the top division for 12 seasons,
since five by Tony Woodcock
(Arsenal 6-2 at Aston Villa)
and Ian Rush (Liverpool 6-0 v Luton) both on Oct 28, 1983.
First time Cole has scored five
in a match.

* Alex Ferguson's biggest win
   as a manager.

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