Kuqi: I knew I'd get one

SHEFKI Kuqi today reflected on his first Portman Road goal and admitted: "It was a great night for me and the team."The on-loan Sheffield Wednesday striker rounded off the six-goal rout in the 90th minute with an unstoppable left-foot drive.

By Mel Henderson

SHEFKI Kuqi today reflected on his first Portman Road goal and admitted: "It was a great night for me and the team."

The on-loan Sheffield Wednesday striker rounded off the six-goal rout in the 90th minute with an unstoppable left-foot drive.

Finnish international Kuqi, just five games into his three-month loan spell, added: "I had a few chances early in the game, but my shots kept getting blocked.

"I just told myself that eventually I would get a goal and to get it right at the end was very

special for me."

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Boss Joe Royle singled out Kuqi, who marked his debut at Watford with a goal, for praise.

He said: "Shefki had a hand in everything that happened in the first half and deserved his goal."

The big striker relived the moment when he recalled: "I saw the ball flying towards me and I thought about hitting it first time.

"But then I decided to take a touch and come inside on my left foot. I was able to get a lot of power in my shot and it was a great finish.

"It was a great feeling to see the ball go into the net and I enjoyed my celebrations in front of the Ipswich fans."

Kuqi agreed it was strange that so many chances had been spurned at Bradford just three days earlier, when Ipswich had to settle for a narrow 1-0 success.

He added: "Everything just seemed to go right for us against Burnley. It sometimes happens like that in football.

"It is very rare for a team to score five goals in one half, never mind just 20 minutes, and I regard being part of that as a great achievement."

Strike partner Pablo Counago, who set the ball rolling with two goals in as many minutes, denied he was disappointed not to claim the second hat-trick of his Ipswich career.

He said: "The most important thing is always the team and the result. Winning matters more than who scores the goals.

"Of course I am happy every time I score a goal. I took a long time to get my first one this

season, but now I have six and I am delighted with that.

"I cannot remember the last time I played in a team who scored five goals in the first half. I think it was when I was still at school – sometimes we scored as many as 20 in games then.

"But this is professional football and it is not an easy thing to do. When you score so many goals in one half, it is difficult to keep it going in the second."

Counago thanked on-loan star Alan Mahon for setting up both his goals and admitted: "There is so much confidence in the team at the moment.

"All the players are enjoying their football and we are not just looking to make the top six. We want to finish in the top two and win automatic promotion."

Skipper Graham Branch, who filled in at the heart of the Burnley defence, said: "We

didn't do ourselves justice in that first half.

"It was much better in the

second and we might have had more goals, but it was impossible to make a game of it by then.

"Ipswich are a good side and they are on a roll. They have plenty of quality and you would have to take them as serious promotion contenders on that form.

"But that was not the real Burnley out there. We can do an awful lot better than that, as the manager was quick to remind us at half-time.

Ipswich fan Dean Hammond, from Stowmarket, said: "You never go to a game and expect your team to be 5-0 up at half-time – it was a real treat.

"Joe Royle has us playing with confidence and the three loan players have made a huge

difference."

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