So my predictions come true once again! I’d correctly predicted that Italy would be crowned the Soccer World Cup champions last year and wa rooting for them right from the start. Ditto for the Champions League when I’d maintained from the preliminary stages that AC Milan were the team to look out for this year. And when Milan packed off Bayern and then Manchester United, I was doubly confident that the Rossoneri would triumph in the finals. And they did! Against a Liverpool team that was written off from the very outset, they surged to a 2-1 win in Athens.
I watched the match right from the start and though Liverpool made some neat forays into the milan half and looked like the best team out there, Milan were quietly confident that whenever an opportunity presented itself, they would take it. Liverpool’s Jermaine Pennant and Bodo Zenden were quite a handful on the flanks and though some good chances were created, the finish was nowhere near good. As half-time loomed, Kaka was fouled just outside the box by Xabi Alonso and Andrea Pirlo took the resultant free-kick. Having seen Pirlo’s flawless deliveries in the World Cup, I was thinking that here was a goal for sure…..and it sure was! Pirlo’s curled kick grazing Filippo Inzaghi’s shoulder and rolling into the Liverpool net. 1-0 up and rock-solid in defense, it was all but done for Milan.
The second half was chirpier than the first but a lot of squandered opportunities saw nither team forge ahead. Steven Gerrard had a golden chance at equalising but his shot was saved. Kaka was ably restrained throughout the match but in the 82nd minute, he slid in a marvellous pass for Inzaghi to beat the offside trap and slot in Milan’s second of the night. Though Kuyt pulled one back for Liverpool in the 89th minute, there wasn’t gonna be another fairytale comeback for the Reds. Milan extracted their due revenge and captured their 7th European title. Only Real Madrid with 9 are ahead of Milan.
My MoM: Filippo Inzaghi. At 33 years and with Gilardino breathing down his shoulder for the lead striker’s role, this guy sure showed how a true-blue striker should make the best out of fortune and skills.
Match Reports: UEFA | BBC Sport