22/01/1997 Palermo Italy 0-2
Tommy Wright, Danny Griffin, Nigel Worthington, Gerry Taggart, Barry Hunter, Steve Morrow, Jon McCarthy (Robbie Dennison), Steve Lomas, Kevin Horlock, Michael Hughes (Keith Rowland), James Quinn (George O’Boyle)
Zola scored in the eighth minute, dribbling around goalkeeper Tommy Wright and scoring from an extreme angle. Del Piero, who came in for Zola in the 63rd minute, scored with two minutes to go off a free kick.
It’s the catch 22 situation. Do we play defensive on a damage limitation exercise following Tommy Wright’s 9th minute blooper and try and hit them on the break or go on an all out attack and get stuffed 6-0? I’d favour the first one and try and catch them on the break as Quinn almost did. We were too defensive and when we did go forward, especially later in the first half when we had possession a plenty we had no-one in front of the ball. I was shouting as much as Bryan Hamilton was but against Italy this was understandable.
It was a pity Del Piero scored at the death as 1-0 would have been a very respectable score for the way we played. Quinn on his own and Worthington and Griffin trying to snuff out Zola. We did have the ball in the net but Hughes was at least five yards off side. When Quinn almost scored in the second half, Peruzzi pulled off a wonder save, I was going mental.
Defensively a good performance, we didn’t really do a lot else really and credit to big Gerry Taggart for mixing it with the Italians. Next time if we’ve got a chance to open the opposition, do it, rather than looking backwards.
Author: Shaun (with an h) Schofield