After surviving the first-leg at Old Trafford and two away-goals to the good, Milan played the second-leg to perfection, ultimately winning 3-0 (5-3 on aggregate) to advance to the finals. This sets up a change for Milan to avenge their shocking loss to Liverpool in the 2005 final.
As for last night’s match, United had no foil, no answer for the attacking midfielders Kaka and Seedorf. Those two scored the first two Milan goals and put Milan up 2-0 by the half hour mark. The first goal came in the 11th minute after a sustained spell of pressure from Milan. United appeared listless out of the gate and were caught standing still as Nesta’s long-ball forward was nodded into Kaka’s path by Seedorf. Kaka smashed home a superb volley to level the tie on aggregate and give Milan the edge on away goals.
United had no real move forward until the 17th or 18th minute but were unable to test Dida until the 20th minute when Ryan Giggs’ lazy daisycutter was smothered easily by the Brazilian keeper. On the half-hour, after another sustained spell of Milan pressure, United gave away possession all too easily and were made to pay for it. Vidic lost his footing and Pirlo scooped up the ball and worked in a cross. Vidic, who scrambled to recover, headed the ball clear but only as far as Seedorf at the top of the box. The Dutchman sidestepped two challenges and fired home a lovely low shot that beat Van Der Sar low to his left, the same as Kaka’s earlier goal.
Fantastic close control and technique on the shot. 2-0 to Milan and 4-3 on aggregate.
Those two goals effectively ended the match, as Milan were able to play the second half at their own tempo, often walking pace, and United had little creativity or innovation going forward. After subbing off John O’Shea for another attacker, Louis Saha, United were caught pushing forward a brillant Ambrosini pass sent Gilardino in clear. His clinical finish squashed any notions even the most die-hard United fan may of been harboring of a 1999-like miracle.
3-0 on the night and a well-deserved win for AC Milan, they were the better team over both legs of the tie. I’ve included a video highlight package of the game that I found on YouTube. We’ll begin previewing the final next week with a look back at that memorable 2005 final.