Finidi George for Ipswich Town vs Derby County

From: stolen from
Category: Other stuff
Date: 23 August 2001


GEORGE BEST by Tim Wheal

FINIDI GEORGE orchestrated proceedings at Portman Road last night with a display that manager George Burley called "one of the best I have ever seen". Opta can reveal that Finidi's performance was also one of the best that the player performance statisticians have witnessed themselves.

The Nigerian's brace was enough to earn him an Opta Index Score of 3,347 points, which is comfortably the highest tally in an individual match by any player so far this season and one of the best ever recorded on Opta's system.

The former Real Mallorca striker ran the show in front of the adoring Town support and as you would expect from a man who can run 100 metres in under 11 seconds, he wasted no time in getting out of the blocks.

George opened his Premiership account with a sweetly-struck low drive past the beleaguered Mart Poom with only 14 minutes on the clock and fired in five efforts in the first half alone - four on target.

After Derby defender Brian O'Neil had seen red, George was afforded far more freedom going forward and was only denied a second goal before the break by the excellence of Estonian shot-stopper Poom, the Rams 'keeper tipping over an audacious chip by the 30-year-old.

With the visitors down to ten men, George pressed on at every opportunity, embarking on 11 dribbles and runs - completing nine of them - and firing six crosses into the box.

George's second goal eventually came with a quarter of an hour left on the clock, sealing the points for Burley's men. The African star showed he can use his head as well as his feet when diving to meet Martijn Reuser's corner and nodding the ball past Poom, to cap an outstanding home debut.

While George's finishing ability caught the eye, his link-up play was by no means shaky. Finidi found a colleague with 87% of his passes, recording a pass completion rate of 85% in the Derby half - a full 25 percentage points up on last term's average in the Premiership.

Finidi was undoubtedly the catalyst in Ipswich Town's high-tempo Destruction Derby. Burley thought that, as a team, Ipswich produced some of the best attacking play he had witnessed at the club, while Jim Smith maintained that his side had been "hammered".

And Opta's stats clarify this point. Town smashed an astounding 36 efforts at goal (including blocked shots) against Derby and it is little wonder that Burley could not believe that the margin of victory was not greater.

Ipswich fans will be looking forward to seeing more of their man in the forthcoming season. As Burley pointed out, Finidi has had very little preparation coming into the 2001-02 campaign and is not yet at his sharpest. Already, though, George looks as though the English game could suit his style of play. He netted just five times and completed a below-par 67% of his passes for Mallorca last term, but the signs are that he will record far more impressive figures on English soil.

If he can maintain anything near this level of performance in the rest of 2001-02, George could help the Suffolk side maintain the momentum from their hugely successful Premiership campaign last year and maybe cause a few headaches in the UEFA Cup along the way.

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