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Milan lose, but enter final

May 05, 2005 02:41 IST
Last Updated: May 05, 2005 11:18 IST


AC Milan reached the Champions League final for the second time in three seasons on Wednesday as a late header by Massimo Ambrosini broke PSV Eindhoven hearts in a stirring semi-final second leg.

Milan, despite losing 3-1 in the Philips Stadium, went through on the away goals rule after a 2-0 win in last week's first leg at San Siro.

Dutch champions PSV ran the six-time winners ragged and looked to have forced extra time with goals from South Korean Park Ji-Sung and Philip Cocu.

But midfielder Ambrosini glanced in Kaka's cross in the last minute and despite a third goal from Cocu in stoppage time PSV bowed out.

Milan will meet four-time winners Liverpool in a mouthwatering final in Istanbul on May 25.

"It's disappointing because when you've played two games better than Milan you deserve to win, but they scored an away goal and that's the most important thing," said PSV captain Mark van Bommel.

Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said his team were "very lucky to be in the final", while their Dutch defender Jaap Stam, a former PSV player, added: "They played a very good game and we only had one chance but that was enough."

Livewire South Korean forward Park had been the inspirational figure for PSV, putting them back into the tie with the early goal their fans craved.

Park, guilty of missing good chances at San Siro, was the instigator and finisher after nine minutes, his incisive pass playing Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink in on goal.

The burly striker did enough to shake off the attentions of defender Stam, allowing Park to run in and crash an unstoppable shot past Dida.

FIRST GOAL

It was the first goal Milan had conceded after seven successive clean sheets in the Champions League but they almost got an instant reply, Kaka's cross sailing over goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes and striking the bar.

The woodwork also prevented PSV from levelling the tie after 27 minutes. A whipped freekick from Van Bommel was met by Vennegoor of Hesselink but his header crashed against the bar.

Cafu wasted the Italian side's first real opening when he blazed over from Shevchenko's pass but PSV posed the greater threat as their up-tempo play pushed Milan back time and again.

Defender Alex headed over from another set-piece and in the dying seconds of the half Theo Lucius tested Dida with a fierce low shot.

Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti replaced the ailing Paolo Maldini at halftime with Kakha Kaladze but the switch did little to stem PSV's relentless attacks.

Park miskicked when teed-up by Van Bommel and Ambrosini was forced into a desperate block from Wilfred Bouma.

Such was PSV's continued dominance that central defender Alex found himself on the edge of the box to meet Lee Young-Pyo's cross, only to sky over.

The relentless pressure finally told again after 65 minutes as PSV levelled the tie as Lee's perfectly flighted cross was met by a superb downward header from Cocu that went in through the legs of Dida.

Robert's stinging drive scorched the fingertips of Dida with 14 minutes left before Milan finally woke up, Ambrosini forcing Gomes to parry an angled header.

With time ticking away, Milan pushed forward down the left and with the PSV defence asleep for the first time, Ambrosini ghosted in to meet Kaka's left-wing cross and put Milan into next month's final.

Cocu briefly raised PSV's hopes in injury time with another cool finish but it was not enough.

Teams:

PSV Eindhoven:1-Gomes; 16-Theo Lucius, 4-Alex, 5-Wilfred Bouma (29-Robert (70)), 3-Young-Pyo Lee; 6-Mark van Bommel (c), 14-Johann Vogel, 8-Philip Cocu; 7-Ji-Sung Park, 9-Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, 17-Jefferson Farfan

AC Milan:1-Dida; 2-Cafu, 13-Alessandro Nesta, 31-Jaap Stam, 3-Paolo Maldini (c, 4-Kakha Kaladze (46)); 8-Gennaro Gattuso, 20-Clarence Seedorf (15-Jon Dahl Tomasson (69)), 21-Andrea Pirlo, 22-Kaka, 23-Massimo Ambrosini; 7-Andriy Shevchenko

Referee: Terje Hauge (Norway).


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