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Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Inzaghi's 2 goals lift AC Milan in Champions final

ATHENS, Greece -- AC Milan made sure there was no Liverpool comeback this time.

The Italian club won the Champions League final Wednesday, defeating Liverpool 2-1 behind two goals by Filippo Inzaghi for its seventh European Cup title.

"These are the evenings that remain with you for all your life," Inzaghi said. "I've scored quite a few times in Europe but scoring in the Champions League final is something special."

The game was a rematch of the 2005 final when Milan blew a 3-0 halftime lead and lost on penalty kicks after a 3-3 tie that become one of the greatest finals in the competition's 52-year history.

"The defeat two years ago will stay me for a lifetime," Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso said. "But this is a different story. It's our turn to celebrate now."

European titles
AC Milan
In a rematch of the 2005 Champions League final, AC Milan topped Liverpool 2-1 on Wednesday to avenge last year's loss and move two victories behind Real Madrid for most European titles.
TeamTitles
Real Madrid9
AC Milan 7
Liverpool5
Ajax4
Bayern Munich 4

Milan moved within two of Real Madrid's record of nine European Cup triumphs. Liverpool has won five times.

Milan, whose previous title came in 2003, won a showdown between teams struggling in their leagues -- Milan is fourth in Serie A and Liverpool is third in the Premier League.

The sea of red of Liverpool fans at one end of the stadium outnumbered the red and black of Milan at the other.

Milan went ahead when Andrea Pirlo's 45th-minute free kick went through the wall and deflected off the side of Inzaghi and past goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

Inzaghi made it 2-0 in the 82nd, taking a pass from Kaka in the center, spurting ahead and rolling the ball from an angle past the outstretched Reina.

"The first goal opened up the game, but the second was certainly more beautiful," Inzaghi said.

Chang: Inzaghi the unlikely hero
 Jen Chang
If one believes in irony, then AC Milan's victory over Liverpool in the Champions League final Wednesday in Athens was certainly a shining example of that, writes Jen Chang. Blog
• Champions League box score

Dirk Kuyt scored for Liverpool with a minute to go. This time, however, there was no extra time and no penalty shootout.

"It's the complete opposite," said Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, whose goal began the comeback in Turkey two years ago. "You've got to take it on the chin, move on and try to pick yourself up, but at the moment it's heartbreaking. We gave everything but it wasn't to be tonight."

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez, who also led Valencia to the UEFA Cup title in 2004 before moving to Anfield, rued the deflected goal.

"We lost against a good team with top-class players," he said. "The first half we played really well but conceded a goal, a deflection, through bad luck."

AC Milan nearly was kicked out of this year's competition by European soccer's governing body but was allowed to remain and started in the third round of qualifying.

AC Milan captain Paolo Maldini, a month short of his 39th birthday, became the oldest nongoalkeeper to take part in a final. He collected his fifth winners' medal, one short of the competition record by Real Madrid's Francisco Gento.

Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti now has two winners medals as a coach to go with the ones he won as a Milan player in 1989 and 1990.

"This joy has to be shared with all those close to the club, all those who have sustained us, and all the fans," Ancelotti said. "It was a very difficult game, much like our season. We started slowly but grew in confidence as the game went on."




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