After The Match 


Milan-Liverpool 2-1 (1-0)         23.5. 07                      CL Final
Goals: Kuyt (89)             Inzaghi (44 & 82)
Team: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Riise, Pennant, Alonso, Mascherano, Zenden, Gerrard, Kuyt
Subs: Kewell (Zenden 59), Crouch (Mascherano 78),
Arbeloa (Finnan 88)
Not used: Dudek, Hyypia, Gonzalez, Bellamy
Yellow: Mascherano (58), Carragher (59)
Gattuso (40), Jankulovski (54)
Red: None
Referee: Fandel Herbert (Germany)
Attendance: 74,000

Shots on target:
Shots off target:
Blocked shots:
Fouls conceded:



to strengthen and bring some quality into the club."
   Steven Gerrard

2405: Kopolis shines on a night of heartbreak
2405: Kuyt bemoans lack of luck in front of goal
2405: No repeat of magical night in Istanbul
2405: Carragher: Final defeat has left us devastated
2405: Papers say Liverpool robbed by hand of Inzaghi
2405: Benitez angry with short injury time
2405: BBC pundits on Athens final
2405: When you walk through a storm...
2405: Gods didn’t smile on Liverpool here
2305: Ancelotti says win will help Italian game's...
2305: Gerrard tips Reds to bounce back
2305: Inzaghi double ends Liverpool dream

MAY 24
Kopolis shines on a night of heartbreak

By Alison Gow - Liverpool Echo

Take your pick from "the joy of six", "six of the best"
and the "sixth sense".

In the minds of so many Reds fans in Athens, the headlines were all set to be written as Liverpool went in search of a record breaking sixth European Cup.

But after a night of heartbreak they were left with nothing but the terrible pain of defeat as AC Milan turned the Olympic Stadium into their very own seventh heaven.

Those headlines will have to wait.

Victory was beyond Rafa Benitez's men this time, but the fans can at least console themselves with the knowledge that their support will today be recognised throughout Europe as among the finest and most loyal in the continent.

AC Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti certainly seemed to think so as he marched his victorious players across to the Liverpool end to reciprocate the applause which was showered upon them after they collected the European Cup.

Their victory was deserved. There was no controversy. And there was precious little sign of the play acting which plagues the modern game on far too many occasions.

So there was no room for bitterness or recriminations amongst the estimated 35,000 Liverpool fans. Rather, there was an appreciation of their own team's magnificent efforts and a sporting acknowledgement that this was Milan's night and they should be allowed to enjoy it to the full.

As Milan captain Paolo Maldini lifted the European Cup above his head, thunderous applause rang out from the massed ranks in the Liverpool end, followed by defiant chanting and singing.

They may have missed out on the trophy, but Liverpool left with their honour and their pride intact and their huge army of fans could take a great share of the credit for that.

Defeat may be painful but it is also the great test of a fan's loyalty and, on this occasion, the Liverpool supporters passed their test with flying colours. While the Milan players cavorted all over the pitch with their newly acquired piece of silverware they were accompanied not by the noise of their own celebrating fans, but by the songs of the Kop on tour.

Pepe Reina, Jermaine Pennant and John Arne Riise made sure they showed their appreciation as they temporarily left their team mates to make their way over to the fans, handing them their jerseys and various other items of kit.

It was a poignant end to a day which had started with such hope. If Istanbul had taught us that even the most fantastic dreams can, and do, come true, the lesson from Athens was that sometimes dreams aren't enough.

This was Milan's night of glory and after the way they suffered in Istanbul just two years ago who could begrudge them that?

From early in the day both sets of fans had mingled freely in the huge squares which can be found throughout downtown Athens.

The only outbreaks of trouble came when touts charging obscene amounts for tickets were attacked by Liverpool supporters. This happened on at least four occasions in Syntagma Square alone.

A skirmish between ticketless Liverpool fans in mid-afternoon was blown out of all proportion by some sections of the British media who reported around 100 supporters had clashed. The reality was just two arrests were made.

For the most part of the day Athens was the fan festival which UEFA had hoped it would be.

Syntagma Square played host to the bulk of the Liverpool fans and they hung their banners from every available vantage point.

Milan were less conspicuous but when they did make an appearance they were happy to exchange songs and swop scarves with their English counterparts.

Former Everton chairman Peter Johnson was among those who set up base at the square, as did ex-Tory leader Michael Howard. Despite their true blue tendencies, the pair are dyed in the wool Kopites and they were not shy in letting their alliegances be known.

At the stadium, Alex Curran, Nicola Carragher, Sheree Murphy and Abbey Clancey were spotted, all fresh from a night spent in the company of Liverpool fans in a resort on the outskirts of Athens.

They arrived with hopes high of returing home on the arms of freshly crowned European champions.

Ultimately, their hopes, like those of the rest of the Red Army, were dashed.

They'll just have to wait for the joy of six.

Maybe it'll come next year in Moscow. With all the reds there, the headline writers will be able to fill their boots.

MAY 24
Kuyt bemoans lack of luck in front of goal

By Richard Williamson - Liverpool Daily Post

Liverpool striker Dirk Kuyt felt his side had been unfortunate after they went down 2-1 in the Champions League final against AC Milan.

Filippo Inzaghi’s deflected goal put the Italians ahead before he pounced to give Milan a two-goal lead.

Although the Dutch striker pulled one back late on, Liverpool could not find another way through.

Kuyt believed he and his teammates had been the better team but had not had any luck.

He said: “At half-time we were in control. We had a few little chances and you have be lucky to score a goal.

“They were really lucky to score one minute before half-time.

“We tried for 90 minutes but unfortunately it didn’t happen for us.”

Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf claimed his fourth Champions League winners’ medal after previous triumphs with Ajax, Real Madrid and his present employers.

The 31-year-old expressed his pride in the club’s achievements after a year which saw them embroiled in the Italian match-fixing scandal.

Seedorf said: “I am so proud to be part of this team. We worked hard this year, a very difficult year.

“Hard work makes it happen. We had such a great spirit this year.

“The final was not the best game, we were very concentrated, we knew we couldn’t make any mistakes against them.”

Kaka expressed his delight at claiming the cup after his experiences of 2005.

He said: “It is very nice to win the Champions League, I’m very happy because in 2005 we lost.

“What happened in 2005 was strange - for just six minutes we played not so good and paid for that and today we could do what we want.

“This is a beautiful side.”

Goal hero Inzaghi said: "When I moved to Milan in 2001 I never thought I could repeat my success at Juventus, never thought I could win two Champions League titles.

"It's difficult to take in but my relationship with Milan is special.”

MAY 24
No repeat of magical night in Istanbul

By Frank Malley - Liverpool Daily Post

No miracle this time. No magical comeback. No tales of Scousers leaving the stadium early only to find their team holding the Champions League trophy when they arrived back at their hotel.

This time in the Olympic Stadium where Kelly Holmes so memorably won double gold for Britain back in 2004, Liverpool could only manage silver. Beaten 2-1 by an AC Milan side many claim should not have been in the competition because of their part in Italian football’s corruption. But beaten, too, by a team of worthy footballers, some wonderful, some gritty, but all who play the game with a hint of panache.

No, it was not a classic final, but nor was it a sterile much-ado-about-nothing encounter such as had been served up by Chelsea and Manchester United in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

There was even a hint of a wondrous finale when Dirk Kuyt headed a late goal to send Milan hearts fluttering.

But this final will be remembered for its passion and commitment, epitomised by one mighty collision between Gennaro Gattuso and John Arne Riise which neither man shirked but which earned Gattuso a yellow card.

This Liverpool side is a tighter, meaner, more organised side, reflecting two years of Benitez influence.

And Jermaine Pennant should have given them the lead, but his weak shot was easily blocked by Dida. Dirk Kuyt and Xabi Alonso also went close.

Milan were not at their fluent best. But the margins are fine in such matches and when Alonso bundled over Kaka on the edge of the area just before half-time there was a ripple of apprehension in the Liverpool ranks.

The free-kick was soft, no question about that, but the type often given in Europe.

Andrea Pirlo, a master of the dead-ball craft, stepped up but his curling shot would not have troubled Jose Reina if it had not been deflected into the net by the upper arm of Filippo Inzaghi.

In truth Gerrard should have supplied the equaliser when he sprang clear, opened up his body to slide the ball past Dida but only succeeded in passing it into the arms of the Milan goalkeeper.

Nine times out of 10 Gerrard would convert such a chance in clinical fashion. Unfortunately this was the 10th.

Another Gerrard effort whizzed just wide but Milan always seemed in control and the match was tied up when Inzaghi slid home his second and his 38th Champions League goal after an exquisite through ball from Kaka.

MAY 24
Carragher: Final defeat
has left us devastated

By Nick Smith - Liverpool Daily Post

Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher described his mood as “devastated” after AC Milan exacted Champions League revenge last night.

The central defender, who inspired Liverpool to European Cup glory against the Italians two years ago, had to settle for a loser’s medal following the 2-1 defeat in the Athens Olympic Stadium.And Carragher also felt responsible for the first goal after losing control of the ball in the build-up to the free-kick which Filippo Inzaghi deflected in to give Milan the lead in the final minute of the first half.

“We are devastated,” said Carragher. “It was the opposite situation two years ago so you can’t come out and moan and cry about it.

“Credit to AC Milan. They are a great side and deserved to win on the night but only slightly. I don’t think there was much in it. In the first half we just shaded it and everyone knows in football how important it is to get a goal just before half-time. Maybe I should have controlled it and cleared it rather than trying to do it first time. But at this level small details count.

“It was a soft free-kick but you know in Europe you’re going to get that. In the Premiership you may get away with it but we are experienced enough in European football to know that.”

Carragher acknowledged the part the fans played in trying to influence a repeat of the 2005 victory in Istanbul but after Inzaghi made it two there was to be no similar fightback this time, despite Dirk Kuyt’s late headed goal.

The 29-year-old felt Liverpool more than matched their performance in the previous final, but things just didn’t fall their way this time.

He added: “It makes it worse when you realise how many are there like in Istanbul, but unfortunately we couldn’t repay their support this time.

“I was just thinking in the dressing room that we probably played as well, if not better, than we did in Istanbul.

We probably didn’t create as many chances but I think we limited Milan to one chance before the second goal. The way we played second half, we really went for it but didn’t create as much as we would have liked.

“But it’s gone now and credit to AC Milan, they have a tremendous record, they are a top side.

“They feel we shouldn’t have beaten them two years ago but they’ve come back.”

Now Carragher is setting his sights on returning after the summer to launch another Liverpool comeback, not just in terms of trying to conquer Europe again but being more of a force on the domestic front.

He added: “When you lose you have that hunger to come back. We want to get closer to Chelsea and Manchester United next season.

“We’ve proved we are a very good side in the Champions League. You can’t win it every year but you want to be in the running every year and we’ll be looking to do the same again.”

MAY 24
Papers say Liverpool
robbed by hand of Inzaghi


Liverpool's 2-1 defeat by AC Milan in the Champions League final was due to a controversial opening goal that came off the arm of striker Filippo Inzaghi, newspapers said on Thursday.

"Armed Robbery" was the front page headline in The Sun which said Liverpool's Champions League dream was "cruelly shattered" by Inzaghi's deflected opening goal on the stroke of halftime at the Olympic Stadium in Athens on Wednesday.

Inzaghi, who also scored a fine second goal for Milan in the 82nd minute, ran into the path of Andrea Pirlo's free kick to send the ball past goalkeeper Pepe Reina, who was wrongfooted by the deflection that put Milan ahead.

"Robbed by the hand of Zag" was The Daily Mirror's front page headline next to a picture of Inzaghi being clearly hit on the arm by the ball that gave Milan a fortunate lead.

The Daily Express headline said; "Inzaghi ruins Athens Dream" and the paper reflected that: "It was a cruel blow from which the Reds never recovered and gave Milan the revenge they craved after losing this trophy to Steven Gerrard's men in Turkey..."

The front page of The Times said simply "Heartbreak", the paper reporting that two years after the "Miracle of Istanbul" -- when Liverpool recovered from 3-0 down to force a 3-3 draw and victory on penalties -- Milan got their revenge.

"Liverpool were left to reflect on a Greek tragedy last night as their hopes of lifting a sixth European Cup were ended by a Milan team whose thirst for revenge was sated with a win that led to tears of joy and despair at the Olympic Stadium."

The Daily Telegraph opted like most of the papers for a picture of dejected Liverpool captain Gerrard under the front page headline "Greek tragedy for Liverpool".

"Liverpool's drive towards the European cup ended on a hard shoulder here last night, Filippo Inzaghi's bony upper arm causing the English real pain," reported the broadsheet paper.

"Like the monsoon that briefly drenched Athens, disappointment swept through the ambitious emissaries from Anfield," the Telegraph added.

The Guardian ran the headline: "Liverpool have bravery but no breaks as Inzaghi inflicts Milan's revenge", adding "This was revenge for Milan as they atoned for the famous fiasco against Liverpool in 2005 but neither club last night struck the heights they had attained in the past two months"

MAY 24
Benitez angry with short injury time

By Karolos Grohmann - Reuters

Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez said on Wednesday his team could have come back from two goals down against AC Milan but shorter than expected stoppage time dashed their hopes.

AC Milan beat Liverpool 2-1 despite an 89th minute goal by Dirk Kuyt that briefly lifted the English team's hopes of a draw.

Liverpool won the 2005 final against AC Milan after recovering from a 3-0 first-half deficit, forcing a penalty shootout which they then won.

"I don't want to use this as an excuse... but I counted two minutes 45 seconds and 51 hundredths (of stoppage time)," Benitez told reporters. "I had confidence (of drawing) but I was surprised with the stoppage time. We did not have time"

Benitez said Liverpool had started the match well, controlling the game and pushing forward.

"We were there. We were really close. We had chances," he said, adding the Italians' first goal through Filippo Inzaghi just before the break was a lucky deflection that forced Benitez to change his game plan.

"The first half we played really well and conceded a deflection, some bad luck. In the second half, we pushed forward and when you do you leave space between the lines and in the wide spaces and they have quality and that's the difference."

Inzaghi struck again eight minutes from time when he slotted the ball under Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina from close range.

MAY 23
Ancelotti says win will help
Italian game's credibility

By Barney Spender - Reuters

AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti hailed his side's 2-1 win over Liverpool in the Champions League final on Wednesday as a victory for Italian soccer.

The 47-year-old said it would go some way towards restoring faith in the Italian game after last year's match-fixing scandal that saw four Serie A clubs punished, including Milan who were only reinstated in the Champions League on appeal.

"Winning the Champions League is completely unexpected in a sense because we had to overcome so many difficulties," he said.

"I wouldn't call this revenge for the scandal but I do think that Italian football suffered from it, especially Milan, so I would say this is good for Italian football in general. It will help us to regain some of our credibility."

Ancelotti, who also led Milan to the Champions League title in 2003, stopped short of describing the win as revenge for Milan's defeat by Liverpool on penalties in the final two years ago in Istanbul but drew comparisons between the two games.

"Sometimes, tactically you want to play a game in a certain way but the actual game forces you to change. In Istanbul, the game was more open, more bubbly. This game was tighter, more controlled from the first minute.

"Against Manchester United in the semi-final we were able to play more the way we wanted but tonight we came under considerable pressure from Liverpool.

"And that meant we couldn't get the ball to players like Kaka and Clarence Seedorf who struggled to get into the game. But what we saw tonight was the other face of AC Milan. We saw that it is a tough team."

Ancelotti, who won the European Cup twice as a player for AC Milan, before becoming coach in 2001, declined, however, to be drawn on his future at the club.

"My market value has certainly increased with this victory but my relationship with Milan is very strong. I have worn the shirt of Milan on the field and that builds a strong relationship. What I have achieved depends a lot on my feeling of belonging."

MAY 23
Gerrard tips Reds to bounce back

BBC Sport Online

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said his side would come back stronger next season after their 2-1 defeat by AC Milan in the Champions League final.

"We can be proud of ourselves. We've done so well getting to the final and I know we'll play in another one of these finals," said Gerrard.

"We've got to pick ourselves up, have a good rest in the summer and then go again next season.

"We're going places, there's no getting away from that."

Two goals from Pippo Inzaghi ended Liverpool's hopes of adding to their five European Cup triumphs, with Dirk Kuyt's 89th-minute header coming too late to save the Reds.

"I think we controlled in the first half but not as much as we would have liked in the second half - but let's not forget that we were playing a top side with top players," said Gerrard.

"Credit to AC Milan - they won and maybe they just about deserved it.

"In the build-up to the game we said it would be decided on small details and a bit of luck and AC Milan got that.

"We need to strengthen and bring some quality into the club. The manager and the people in charge of the club know that and it will be an interesting summer.

"You've got to give credit to our lads, they gave everything and it just wasn't to be."

MAY 23
Inzaghi double ends Liverpool dream

By Phil McNulty - BBC Sport Online

Pippo Inzaghi struck twice as AC Milan gained revenge for their 2005 Champions League final defeat against Liverpool with victory in Athens.

Inzaghi scored a freak opener in first-half injury time, unwittingly deflecting Andrea Pirlo's free-kick past a wrong-footed Pepe Reina.

Steven Gerrard missed a glorious chance to equalise before Inzaghi slid home a second eight minutes from time.

Dirk Kuyt pulled one back with a header with two minutes left but time ran out.

Liverpool, as expected, used Kuyt as a lone front man with captain Gerrard pushed into an advanced role.

And it was a ploy that worked well until Liverpool conceded unfortunately in the dying seconds of the first half.

Jermaine Pennant was also prominent as Liverpool posed the greater threat, forcing a fine save from Dida after Marek Jankulovski had conceded possession.

The much-touted Brazil star Kaka was a peripheral figure early on, but he brought a comfortable save from Liverpool keeper Reina with a 20-yard drive.

Alonso then came within inches of putting Liverpool ahead after 26 minutes, sending an angled drive just wide after more poor Milan defending.

But after controlling the game, Liverpool conceded needlessly in first-half injury time.

Alonso had committed several careless fouls, and he paid the price for another infringement on Kaka 20 yards out.

Pirlo's free-kick took a crucial deflection off Inzaghi that completely wrong-footed Reina.

Liverpool struggled to exert their superiority in the early stages of the second half and Benitez made a change after 58 minutes, sending on Harry Kewell for Bolo Zenden.

Gerrard had Liverpool's best chance on 62 minutes when he was sent clear by a dreadful pass by Rino Gattuso, but his finish was weak and Dida saved.

Time was running out for Liverpool and Benitez made a second change with 13 minutes left, sending on Peter Crouch for Javier Mascherano.

As Liverpool pushed forward, they were punished by a piece of brilliance by Kaka and a trademark ruthless finish from Inzaghi.

Kaka unlocked Liverpool with a glorious pass and Inzaghi rounded Reina before scoring from an angle.

Crouch then tested Dida with a 25-yard drive as Liverpool tried to mount an unlikely recovery.

Liverpool pulled one back with two minutes to go when Daniel Agger flicked on Pennant's corner and Kuyt headed home.

But this time there was no dramatic comeback and Milan celebrated wildly.

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Thor Zakariassen ©