Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Milan Conquers Europe -- Already leading Liverpool 1-0, AC Milan delivered the fatal blow about 10 minutes from the end. Kaka held the ball, while the Liverpool defense dropped back a step or two, bringing Filippo Inzaghi back onsides. Then, Kaka threaded a pass through the Reds' back line, as Inzaghi darted back towards the Liverpool net. Inzaghi grabbed the pass, clinically cut to his right to evade the onrushing Pepe Reina, then slotted the sharply angled shot beyond the reach of the diving Reina. That made the score 2-0 in Milan's favor.

Liverpool controlled play for much of the game, but the score was not in their favor. Perhaps it was a mistake to leave the team's leading scorer, Peter Crouch, on the bench, until the 78th minute. Despite the possesion advantage, Liverpool mounted few good threats. When the score was still 1-0, Steven Gerrard narrowly missed a tying goal, as his long shot sailed just wide. The Reds couldn't put a shot on net until Dirk Kuyt's header in the 88th minute beat Dida, for Liverpool's lone goal.

Kuyt's goal probably revived the debate regarding Inzaghi's controversial first goal, but it proved to be too little, too late for the lads from Merseyside. Over the final four minutes, Liverpool failed to mount another attack. In the end, in this match between two of Europe's most storied clubs, Milan avenged their 2005 Champions League final loss to Liverpool, winning tonight 2-1. The win is redemption for Milan, which narrowly avoided being disqualified from the tournament, as a consequence of the team's involvement in Italy's match-fixing schedule. One more title for one of the world's most famous sports teams.

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