28 May 2003
DIDA THE HERO AS MILAN WIN ON PENALTIES
JUVENTUS 0-0 MILAN
The match started really well. Rui Costa, who was beyond awful, carried the ball from midfield and passed wide to Inzaghi, Inzaghi fired the ball across the box to Shevchenko, his shot flew in off Ferrara but the goal was ruled out for offside on Rui Costa and Inzaghi. One rule for Real Madrid and one rule for everyone else. Trezeguet missed an immediate chance, heading wide from close range. In the 17th minute Inzaghi met Seedorf's cross with a fantastic diving header but Buffon made an amazing save. The only save either 'keeper was forced to make in normal time. The absolutely dreadful Rui Costa wasted a glorious opening by shooting wide. Tudor pulled a hamstring following a challenge from Shevchenko, Birindelli came on in his place.
Early in the second half Conte, on as a substitute for Camoranesi, headed against the crossbar. As far as chances go that was it. Both teams defending magnificently. Davids, who along with Gattuso, was running the show had to be substituted in the second half for Zalayeta, and a minute later Ancelotti bizarrely sent on Roque Junior in place of Costacurta. With Davids off Milan took control. Two more substitutions followed - Serginho (on for Pirlo) and Ambrosini finally replaced Rui Costa.
Any impetuous Milan had, and a goal seemed only a matter of time, was lost when Roque Junior hurt his bollocks early in the first period of extra time. He was actually having a great match up until that point. With Juve exhausted and Milan effectively playing with 10 men penalties were inevitable.
The penalties were taken at the Juve end.
Trezeguet looked beaten the minute he stepped up. He went for the bottom right corner but Dida saved.
Serginho slammed the ball into the top left corner, sending Buffon the wrong way.
Birindelli fired a low shot into the bottom left corner.
Seedorf, who missed a penalty against Italy in that legendary Euro 2000 semi-final, again went left but Buffon flew across goal and punched the ball out.
Zalayeta also went for the left but Dida blocked with his legs.
Kaladze fired his spot kick right down the middle, Buffon went to his right but saved with his legs.
Hacker Montero was next and he also shot down the middle with equally disastrous results.
Nesta calmly fired the ball inside the right corner.
Del Piero had to score to keep Juve in the match and I was certain he was going to do a Baggio but thankfully, for him, he made no mistake, sending Dida the wrong way with a low shot into the bottom right corner.
Shevchenko, seemingly nervous, kept eyeing the ref waiting for him to blow the whistle. When he did he shot into the bottom right corner, Buffon went the wrong way.
Milan win 3-2 on penalties.
Juve will obviously point to Nedved's absence but Milan played with ten men the minute Rui Costa stepped on the pitch. Rui Costa has disgraced the Milan shirt far more than even Dugarry, at least Dugarry tried. European Cup #6 for Milan. Overall on the balance of play they deserved it, over the course of the season there can be no doubt they deserved it. I don't recall any team having such a difficult route to the finals in recent seasons - Depor, Bayern, Real Madrid, Dortmund, Ajax, Inter and now Juventus. Milan are on for the double, Saturday's Italian Cup final seems a formality for Ancelotti's side as they go into the home leg with a 1-4 lead over Roma.
Dida and Serginho become the first players to win both the Copa Libertadores and European Cup. That long haired no talent Sorin didn't play for Juve when they won the trophy back in 1996. Seedorf becomes the first player to win the European Cup with three different clubs - Ajax, Real Madrid and now Milan. Maldini and Costacurta have now won 4 European Cups and I believe Ancelotti becomes the first man to win the European Cup as both player and coach.
It's ironic that Shevchenko, playing the worst football of his career, should score the decisive penalty. Over the course of his career no one can deny he hasn't deserved to win club football's biggest prize. Rivaldo of course, watched the game from the bench and his contribution has been marginal to say the least but he will leave the club on a high.
Milan have an ageing squad and have a lot of work to do if they are to repeat their success next season, it's a shame they couldn't put on a show but then they're not the first great team to win the European Cup on penalties and they won't be the last. After a 9 year wait they have their hands back on the European Cup and right now that is all that matters.