AC Milan, Liverpool set for showdown

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> AC Milan will get another chance to beat Liverpool in the Champions League final.

Updated: May 05, 2007 14:05 IST
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AC Milan will get another chance to beat Liverpool in the Champions League final.

Two years after their epic final clash in Istanbul, they face each other again in the May 23 finale at Olympic Stadium in Athens, Greece.

Milan, a six-time European Cup champion, set up the repeat final on Wednesday by beating Manchester United 3-0 and 5-3 on aggregate. The Italian team will be playing in the Champions League final for the third time in five years.

Five-time champion Liverpool advanced on Tuesday, ousting Chelsea 4-1 on penalties after a 1-0 win put the teams level at 1-1 on aggregate.

"When Liverpool won, a few players were already thinking about revenge for the 2005 final," Milan vice president Adriano Galliani said. "The Istanbul wound is still fresh in our hearts."

In the 2005 final, Milan led Liverpool 3-0 at halftime, but the English team scored three times in the second half and eventually won 3-2 on penalties.

"People claim we are not a great side but we are doing something special," Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher said. "It is an unbelievable achievement to get to two European Cup finals in three years."

"It's certainly special," Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "The Reds have less quality than Manchester United, but they're more physical."

Milan's win kept the final from being an all-English game, and kept Man United from repeating its 1999 treble when it won the Premier League, the FA Cup and the Champions League.

Until Tuesday, Chelsea had been hoping to win four trophies. The Blues have already won the League Cup, will face Man United in the FA Cup final on May 19, and trail United by five points in the English league with three games to go.

Neither Liverpool nor Milan is playing for much more than another European Cup title.

Milan, which started the season with an eight-point penalty for its role in the Italian match-fixing scandal, is in third place and has already been eliminated from the country's cup competition. Liverpool is in third place in the English league and already assured of playing in the Champions League next year.

Dirk Kuyt, who scored the deciding penalty against Chelsea and had a goal called out for being offsides, said he came to Liverpool to win trophies.

"This is one of the biggest and I'm very pleased to have this happen in my first year here. Now we just have to win it," Kuyt said.

Liverpool co-owner George Gillett Jr., an American businessman, has already said he will be making the trip to Greece.

"You bet I will be in Athens. I have seen some marvelous games already in Europe and that will be another," Gillett said. "I have worked in the States for many years but football in Europe is like any other sport I have seen but on steroids."

Liverpool, the most successful team in English soccer with a record 18 league titles, will be playing in the final for the seventh time. Milan will be making its 11th appearance.

"We got through and we do not want to go all the way to the final and lose," Liverpool midfielder Boudewijn Zenden said.

On Wednesday, Kaka, Clarence Seedorf and Alberto Gilardino each scored for Milan.

Liverpool got its lone goal from Daniel Agger on Tuesday, while Pepe Reina saved penalties from Arjen Robben and Geremi in the shootout.

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