2001: An Ace Squad-yssey – Season 3, Part 7 | @CMClassicSquads

Happy Friday! Nick has been busy with the 01/02 Aces again and today he has the chance to get hold of some silverware

Gradito my champ chums, and welcome to the penultimate part of season 3 with the CM01/02 Aces. This week promises to be a cracker as the season reaches its climax, with the Aces top of Serie A and still in the Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup…

We begin in Europe, where we lead Atletico Madrid 2-1 after our UEFA Cup quarter-final 1st leg. Samba is in for the injured Tsigalko. We trail 2-1 at half time after a Juninho spot kick gives the hosts the lead after Madeira had replied to the Brazilian’s opener. The 1st half is pretty even but unfortunately the 2nd half isn’t, as Juninho completes his hat trick after strikes from Dean Bullock and Jordi Lardín to condemn us to a club-record 6-2 aggregate defeat.

The boys are gutted, but we pick ourselves up to face 4th-placed Napoli, who we demolished 4-1 at home, but they have since found some form. We dominate early on, and Källström gives us a deserved lead, but Marco Simone levels after half an hour. We look more likely to score in the 2nd half but it’s the hosts who take the points after a Beto goal on 70 minutes.

Madeira gets his 2nd cap and 1st goal for Portugal in a midweek friendly win over South Africa, and Källström is on the score sheet for Sweden as they hammer Armenia.

After 2 defeats, we could really do with a win against 9th-placed Genoa. We run the show in the 1st half but have nothing to show for our efforts. My team talk seems to do the trick as we lead on the hour through Madeira, before Okoronkwo’s 3rd goal of the season caps a solid performance late on. We’re boosted by Inter drawing at Reggiana, so we’re just 2 points adrift now.

Man Utd try their luck with a £4m bid for Duff, but he’s going nowhere.

Next are Vicenza, who we squeaked a 2-1 win over last time. Tsigalko returns for Samba. Our early goals have dried up lately, so it’s nice to see Madeira score early-ish. The lead is no more than we deserve, but we can’t find a killer 2nd goal and survive a few late close shaves to hold out for the victory. Inter draw again, and we’re now top on goal difference with 4 games remaining!

It’s crunch time, and the next 4 matches will make or break our season. 1st up is the Coppa Italia final 1st leg with Inter. There’s a theory among the CM97/98 community of a Coppa Italia final bug, which sees emphatic 1st leg leads dramatically overturned in the 2nd leg, so let’s see how this goes…

Inter are only missing Djorkaeff, and we’re at full-strength. After the hammering from Atletico, I set up with the formation that has kept big sides at bay. We lead at half time after Hofland heads home. It should be 3 or 4 but Pagliuca is shining for Inter. I would have been happy to see out a 1-0 win, but we run riot in the 2nd half and score another 3 before Winter nets a late consolation. It’s an amazing result, but we’ll see if the dreaded bug appears the 2nd leg.

In other news… AC Milan have struggled of late with 2 wins in 8, so Fabio Capello makes a timely decision to replace the recently-sacked Javier Clemente as Spain boss.

Next it’s Inter again but in the league, and a win will put us 3 points clear at the summit. After an emphatic win a few days ago, I unsurprisingly set up the same. We’re dealt a hammer blow in the 2nd minute as Madeira is stretchered off. The visitors lead through Ricken, but Källström restores parity 7 minutes later. Ronaldo scores to regain the lead for Inter, which turns out to be the last goal of the game and we’re 3 points behind again.

The last thing you need after losing ground in a title race is a trip to Juventus. They have however only managed 2 wins from 15 games, so it could be a good time to play them. I opt for Aghahowa in place of Madeira. The 1st half is tame to say the least. We get the chance to take the lead from the spot on 70 minutes, but Selakovic blazes over the bar, and we’re made to rue the miss as George Donis and Bobby Pires all but secure the title for Inter, who beat Napoli.

With our title hopes all but diminished, it’s time for our biggest match to date, the Coppa Italia final 2nd leg with Inter. We lead 4-1 from the 1st leg, but I’m dreading the bug turning the tie on its head. Madeira is back for Aghahowa, so we’re at full-strength.

It’s a quiet opening 20 minutes but 4 goals in 10 minutes put the tie well and truly to bed as we record an extraordinary 8-1 aggregate win to secure our first major trophy. It looks like we were on the right end of the bug this time, but I don’t care one bit and I’m over the moon!

In that match, Tsigalko set a new record for assists in a season, good lad.

So after crashing out of Europe and the title race, it’s nice to end a disappointing week with some good news, and considering our team has only existed for 3 seasons, we’ve not done too badly. Join us next week for our final two league games and a statistical review of the season. Ciao!

Leave a Reply