With the heart-breaking loss in the 2005 UEFA Champions League finals a distant memory, AC Milan slipped past Liverpool FC for a 2-1 victory at Spiros Louis Stadium in Athens.
AC Milan evaded Liverpool, captain Steven Gerrard and lone striker Dirk Kuyt’s unending attempts to score a goal to steal their seventh Champions League title.
In 2005, Liverpool was behind 3-0 before making an unbelievable comeback and beating Milan in the penalty. As one of England’s most successful clubs, Liverpool wanted to keep the momentum on their side and began the match with one intent: get an early lead.
The England squad tried to keep possession and score on Milan’s shaky defense in the first half. An early tackle by right midfielder Jermaine Pennant tested Milan goal-keeper Dida, who was able to get a hand on a low shot to his right. But the Italian club had a score to settle to avenge their shattered dreams from two years ago.
Brazilian great Kaka showed off his skills as he received a lob just behind the 18-yard box. With a quick move to his right to get rid of his defender, Kaka blasted a shot towards right post. But keeper Pepe Reina thwarted the striker’s near connection with the back of the net as he dove to his left to catch the bouncing ball.
Just a few plays later, Steven Gerrard made sure his legend of making spectacular goals continued. With a fast Liverpool counterattack, Pennant took possession down the right flank to find an open Gerrard 18 yards away from the net. With one bounce off of his chest, the Liverpool captain sent a volley just over the bar.
But it was Milan who was able to strike first.
During the final minute of the first half, Kaka was brought down by a challenge from Xabi Alonzo. Fillipo Inzaghi was awarded the goal as it deflected off his shoulder past the diving Reina.
Andre Pirlo tried to help his club go up to 2-0 when he took a free kick after confusion among the Liverpool defenders resulted in a yellow card for defender Jamie Carragher. His bending shot made it over the Reds’ wall but not below the left cross-bar.
Liverpool’s late goal from Milan’s corner off of Kuyt’s head was not enough to make lightning strike twice as Inzaghi’s 74th-minute goal was enough to ensure Milan’s victory.
The Reds were not opportunistic with their heavy offensive threats and were eager to prove that their unlikely comeback just two years was not a fluke. Liverpool supporters were time and time again disappointed with their close misses, especially the lack of presence of their yellow arm-banded captain Gerrard.
It was great to see two legends on the field, Liverpool’s captain and Kaka, battle for the most prestigious football tournament in the world. Milan’s striker had a remarkable post season luring many teams around the world to check his availability for the next season. With Kaka’s possible departure to Spain’s Real Madrid, AC Milan won the cup just in time.
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