It was the 1994/95 Premiership season and Manchester United faced a struggling Ipswich side that were fighting for survival. Right from the start United were favourites to win the match, but no-one could foresee the heavy margin that they would eventually win by. The game showcased United’s rampant attacking nature and the 9-0 thrashing still remains the Premier League’s biggest ever win. Ipswich was already in a relegation battle and needed to salvage at least a point from the game, however even today when The Red Devils are on form at Old Trafford, almost nothing can stop them. And nothing did.
Going into the game Ipswich’s chances of survival appeared to be slim, as they were more or less relegated already. Nevertheless, they still hoped to frustrate United’s title hopes with a shock victory just as they had done against Liverpool earlier in the campaign. United also had to perform as they had to send out a clear message to Blackburn Rovers in the fierce title race between the two clubs. And with fifteen minutes gone, it took Mark Hughes’ excellent vision to pick out Roy Keane who opened the scoring with a beautifully struck shot from outside the area that nestled into the bottom left hand corner. The next goal also came inside the opening 20 minutes as Ryan Giggs ruthlessly took hold of possession inside his own half and sprinted towards the Ipswich area. The Tractor Boys’ defence was nowhere to be found and Giggs cut inside the area, released the ball and Andy Cole was there to capitalise on the cross and divert it past Forrest into the back of the net. The Blues were two goals behind and had effectively already lost the game inside the first quarter.
The Ipswich supporters knew their team had no chance of coming back into the game, but this did not discourage them from singing “we want one” in attempt to encourage the players to give them something to shout about. However, it was United who reacted. Eight minutes before the interval, Hughes reacted superbly to a crossed ball from the right with a spectacular volley that hit the crossbar and Cole took advantage of the rebound and placed his shot into the top right hand corner of the net. The Red Devils were three goals up at half-time and were looking very good value for their lead. Cole was one goal away from a hat-trick and he got it almost immediately after the interval. A cross by Denis Irwin from the right flank caused confusion in the box and Cole headed in his third of the game. Although some say that it was in fact Frank Yallop who bundled the ball over his own line, Cole insisted that it was his goal. United’s fifth then came from Giggs’ second assist of the match. He ran down the left flank, committing three Ipswich players before crossing the ball into the box, finding Mark Hughes who fired it in from a difficult angle. It was now a matter of how many the Red Devils would score, as the Tractor Boys hoped to avoid total humiliation.
The Ipswich defence had lost its composure as United were allowed to, almost effortlessly, slice through it. Brian McClair’s excellent through ball put Giggs one-on-one with the keeper but Forrest did well to block the shot, only for luck to completely desert the Ipswich stopper as the rebound fell kindly onto the head of Hughes who grabbed his second of the game. United’s seventh came from a familiar source as Cole was hand once again to fire home a left foot volley after Forrest had superbly denied McClair’s effort. Controversially, Paul Ince scored the eighth goal of the game soon after. Forrest was cautioned for handball outside his penalty box, which was a desperate attempt to prevent Hughes from adding anymore misery to an outclassed Ipswich side. With the 7-0 score line already, Ince wanted to add his name to the ever increasing scoresheet and his quickly taken chipped free-kick sailed freely into Forrest’s unguarded net.
The final goal of the game was scored by none other than Andy Cole himself. Ipswich’s defence failed to clear Giggs’ corner and when Gary Pallister’s header fell into the feet of Cole on the six-yard line – there was only one outcome. The former Newcastle man swivelled expertly to turn the ball into the back of the net to score his fifth and United’s ninth in a dream day for the Old Trafford faithful. The final whistle ended a faultless performance by the Red Devils and the smile on Sir Alex Ferguson’s face simply highlighted his joy at his side’s performance. It was unlucky that United were not able to go into double figures with a perfect 10 goal triumph, while Cole’s five goals set another Premier league record and showed just how much of a threat he was in front of goal, helping him forge his reputation as a prolific and dangerous marksman.
On the opposing side, George Burley’s Ipswich team never recovered from the thrashing and were ultimately relegated from the Premiership. The game proved that they were no match for an increasingly difficult Premiership, whereas United proved that they could be one of the best ever teams to ever grace English Football. They were now on the same points as current league leaders Blackburn Rovers and the result sent out a threatening message to Kenny Dalglish’s side.
The match is without a doubt a classic Premier League encounter. It showcased Manchester United’s attacking flair, which is still an integral part of their football today, as well as set two Premier League records which have yet to be broken. Even though the Red Devils failed to win the Premiership in the same season, they were rapidly becoming one of the most celebrated clubs in English Football. The 9-0 victory heightened the status of Sir Alex Ferguson and his club to the extent that they were to become one of the most feared clubs to play against.
Manchester United 9-0 Ipswich – Keane 15′, Cole 19′, 37′, 53′, 65′, 87′, Hughes 55′, 59′, Ince 72′
Manchester United (3-4-3): Schmeichel – Bruce (Butt), Pallister, Irwin – Kanchelskis (Sharpe), Ince, Keane, Giggs – McClair, Cole, Hughes
Ipswich (4-4-2): Forrest – Yallop, Thompson, Sedgley, Wark – Linighan, Williams, Palmer, Chapman (Marshall) – Mathie, Slater
From the Archive
Leeds United 4-3 Liverpool – November 4, 2000
Tottenham Hotspur 3-4 Manchester City – February 4, 2004
Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle United – April 3, 1996
Bradford 1-0 Liverpool – May 14, 2000
Manchester United 9-0 Ipswich Town – March 4, 1995