25 May 2005

John Peel is smiling.

I had earlier threatened to live-blog the UEFA Champions League Final - couldn't pull it off; TV is downstairs, and PC is upstairs. I'm just not equipped for the wireless/portability game.

Instead I was glued to my Sony, where I watched Liverpool go behind AC Milan in the first bloody minute.
There was no time for either side to settle before Milan had taken the lead. Just 52 seconds were on the clock when Maldini's right-footed volley connected with Pirlo's free-kick and sailed past Dudek.

Then Liverpool went down 0-2, then 0-3 by halftime, which borders on the unclimbable mountain.

Kaka then produced a moment of magic to seemingly finish Liverpool's hopes before half-time as he swivelled away from his marker before threading a perfect pass through for Crespo to become only the third player to score twice in a Champions League final.

Then a funny thing happened: The teams came out to play a second half . . .

Paolo Maldini's fastest ever goal in a UEFA Champions League final and two from their Argentinean striker Hernan Crespo looked to have secured Milan's third UEFA Champions League crown, but second-half goals by Liverpool's talismanic captain Steven Gerrard, substitute Vladimir Smicer and Spanish international Xabi Alonso wiped out Milan's seemingly unassailable half-time advantage.

Liverpool and AC Milan played the last 30 minutes tied at 3, played the 30 minutes of extra time with no scoring. There were chances for both sides, and some remarkable work in net by Jerzy Dudek. Extra time came and went, and we're off to shootout.

Jerzy Dudek then saved from Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko in the shoot-out to clinch a stunning victory. It capped an amazing turnaround, with Liverpool looking out of contention after they were completely outclassed in the first-half. Liverpool's advance to the final was a major shock as they invaded the established order of Europe's footballing elite - overturning the odds against Juventus and Chelsea to reach Istanbul.

Liverpool are champions of Europe. Congrats boys, you've done right by all Merseysiders, both foreign and domestic.

You can be certain that OBE Ravenscroft has uncorked the red wine, and is toasting your efforts.

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