A pair of goals by Fillipo Inzaghi — the first coming on a blatant handball — gave AC Milan a 2-1 win over Liverpool in Wednesday’s Champions League finale….and some measure of revenge for the dramatic events at the San Siro two years ago. The Times’ Tony Cascarino wonders, “How ironic that Milan were worse than they were in Istanbul and Liverpool so much better.”
Fears that BenÃtez would adopt a defensive game plan seemed justified when the teamsheets came out and showed that Kuyt was the only striker. In theory, yes, but in practice it was two up front because Gerrard played as a centre forward. There were times when he was more advanced than the Dutchman.
The aim was presumably to use Gerrard™s running power to pull Milan™s centre backs out of position, and it worked reasonably well, though Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini are too experienced to let themselves be tricked. It was obvious, though, that Gerrard had the legs on them and he had space in the final third of the pitch. Another tribute to the Liverpool captain™s versatility: put him at right back, right wing, centre midfield or in attack and he impresses.
But why not play Gerrard, Crouch and Kuyt? What do you lose? BenÃtez could have asked his captain to play a more disciplined role. Kuyt was asked to do what Crouch does “ hold the ball up and win aerial battles. But he™s not as good at that as Crouch.
It defeated the point of using two wingers. Time and again, the crosses went in but there were not enough red shirts to aim at. In the Barclays Premiership, Liverpool have one of the best crosses-to-goals ratios. With Kuyt, Gerrard and Crouch on the pitch, finally, Liverpool had a headed chance and scored. Too late.
It was frustrating because Milan were a huge disappointment. It was shocking to see them play so poorly when they were so devastating for three quarters of the semi-final against Manchester United.