Thursday, May 24, 2007

Champions League final: Liverpool undone by ultimate predator and Jesus

They do say football is a funny old game - and with some justification going off the Champions League final in Athens, because after forty two minutes few would have given Milan much of hope getting revenge for what happened two years ago, such was Liverpool's domination until that point.

The Liverpool players were quicker to the ball all over the park, while the Milan players looked to be ageing and going backwards by the minute. On-looking United fans will have been scratching their collective heads wondering if this was the same side that took the Reds apart so destructively in the San Siro in that semi-final.

But then on the stroke of half time Milan undeservedly took the lead when Inzaghi deflected a free-kick into the corner of the net giving Reina no chance. Liverpool will be cursing Milan's good fortune, but Inzaghi had gambled like the very top predatory strikers do when he followed in that free-kick.

During the half-time break on ITVs coverage, Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish said that the fact his team were one down was good news, because 'they'd have to go for Milan', it was the kind of bizarre logic that had you wondering if Dalglish was pissed.

When the game restarted, Milan made more of a fist of it and Liverpool's domination wasn't what it was in that first half, as tiredness gradually took its toll. Liverpool were then given fair warning of what was to follow later when Inzaghi was wrongly judged to be offside when put through clear on goal - it was a real let-off.

The killer blow came late on in the game when Milan scored a goal of genuine quality, the move started deep in the Italian's half and after several neat passes the ball found it's way to the feet of the outstanding star of this season's Champions League - the brilliant Brazilian Kaka - he in turn found the predatory feet of Inzaghi who'd once again timed his run to perfection, quite what game Jamie Carragher was playing at only he knows. Inzaghi finished with the coolness of a man who is now only second to the famous Gurd Muller in the goal scoring stakes, it was a goal fitting of the occasion and the game's only true highlight. Kuyt scored what turned out to be a late consolation goal and Gerrard spurned the Red's best chance from open play. It wasn't to be.

At the end of what was a pretty good game the Liverpool stars were generous in their assessment that Milan had won deservedly. Steven Gerrard stated that Liverpool will be back and he might be right. However, moments earlier at the final whistle Kaka had removed his shirt to reveal a t-shirt sporting the message 'I belong to Jesus'... on-looking United fans will have no doubt also said a quite thank you to the Lord for sparing us a sixth Liverpool win on the night. Special mention too for Alan Hansen when he said 'I'm 100% confident Liverpool will win'...as I said earlier in the week, that was the kiss of death if ever there was one.

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