Hugh Keevins reports on a glory night in Europe for Alex Ferguson’s men
The Scotsman, October 1, 1981
ABERDEEN, thwarted in their European ambitions by Liverpool in the premier tournament last year, progressed triumphantly to the second round of the Uefa Cup last night by knocking out the holders, Ipswich, in a match of unrelenting excitement at Pittodrie.
Showing that they had learned amply from last year’s lesson, Alex Ferguson’s team eventually took command of the match after a truly inspiring goal from Peter Weir and before another from the same source which was even more dramatic.
Weir, who like the rest of his colleagues had taken time before fully showing his worth, must with these goals have substantially paid off the fee paid for him only four months ago.
Even Strachan’s twice taken penalty in the last minute, when he scored with the first attempt and missed with the second after the refere had ordered a retake, could not detract from Aberdeen’s night.
With Miller and McLeish excelling in defence and the introduction of the strong running Bell for Watson proving an inspired move immediately after the dirty had been done on a side of multi-national experience with Weir’s opening goal, Aberdeen came on to the kind of fluent, composed game which reflects inestimably on the home scene.
It was the aggressive fire of Aberdeen which brought the first warm glow of the evening when the home side went a goal ahead after 19 minutes.
The booking of Doug Rougvie, presumably for persistent fouling since Mariner was the third English player to experience the numbing sensation from that particular force, had given rise to ominous forebodings of over-reaction on Aberdeen’s part.
Then John Wark, Ipswich’s Scottish internationalist, lost the place altogether inside his own 18-yard box, allowing himself to be dispossessed by Strachan in a moment of abberation and leaving the Aberdeen player with only Cooper between him and a goal. Wark’s immediate instinct was to trip Strachan and a penalty was the only award possible, from which Strachan had no difficulty scoring without time for recovery being necessary.
Then Arnold Muhren reminded the all-ticket crowd of the individual brilliance contained within the Ipswich team by striking the bar with a wickedly deceptive free kick, from which Leighton did well to recover and save Brazil’s header on the rebound.
But even Leighton was helpless when the other nuisance from the Netherlands, Thijssen, was instrumental in bringing the tie back to equality a minute later. Thijssen’s incisive pass to Gates was about to spell trouble for Aberdeen before Cooper brought down the little forward, but that only forfeited another penalty which ensured the unwanted for them.
In an ironic act of making amends, John Wark sent Leighton the wrong way and a game which had throbbed from the beginning took on an even quicker pulse rate.
Aberdeen took the lead ten minutes into the second half with a goal of the highest quality. A long, diagonal pass from Strachan was gathered by Weir in a position of no apparent concern to Ipswich, but the former St Mirren player, whose contribution had been frustratingly insubstantial, suddenly took flight.
Drifting past two Ipswich defenders, he released a curving shot from the edge of the penalty box which eluded Cooper and brought localised immortality within the reach of Aberdeen’s newest player.
It carried with it also the initial signs of untidiness in an Ipswich team who began to look as if they were watching something for which they had not bargained.
Uefa’s instructions about unmanly behaviour after the scoring of a goal were also totally ignored when Weir again took off on a solo run and shot beyond Cooper with astonishing accuracy five minutes from the end and the kissing had to start.