Despite defeat, Liverpool fans celebrate

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Soccer fans packed into the center of Liverpool didn't sound like they had just watched their team lose in a Champions League final.

Updated: May 25, 2007 15:11 IST
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Liverpool, England:

Soccer fans packed into the center of Liverpool didn't sound like they had just watched their team lose in a Champions League final.

As the final whistle blew in Athens, Greece, thousands of supporters spontaneously roared out a passionate rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone," the team's anthem.

Despite the 2-1 loss to AC Milan at the Olympic Stadium, the local fans were determined to go ahead with their post-match parties.

"It is so nice to hear," said 25-year-old Soonjo Kwon, a student in Liverpool from Seoul, South Korea. "In Korea when a team loses we don't continue singing and supporting our side. I was crying it was so emotional at the end of the match."

The indefatigable spirit in the northern English city also astonished American tourist Elizabeth Cashen.

"We watched in our bedrooms, but after the game came outside and heard fans blowing whistles and horns," said the 22-year-old Fort Wayne, Indiana-native, who was wearing a T-shirt celebrating Liverpool's five previous European Cup triumphs. "It was so amazing - just like the Super Bowl."

About 40,000 Liverpool fans made the trip to the Greek capital, despite the club's much smaller ticket allocation.

Back home, the most popular place to follow the game was Concert Square, a tightly packed area thronged with bars.

By kickoff, the hours of drinking formed a carpet of shattered glass bottles and crushed cans.

Hundreds clung to window ledges or peered through glass doors to catch of glimpse of big screens inside.

Simon Smyth couldn't get a ticket for the Olympic Stadium, so he traveled hundreds of kilometers from Dorset in southwest England just to experience the atmosphere in Liverpool.

"We kept our faith going right to the end and just hoped Dirk Kuyt's late goal would spark a comeback," the 25-year-old Smyth said.

Tactical mistake

But many also thought the decision to play Kuyt as the lone striker was a mistake.

"We should have started with Peter Crouch up front with Kuyt. Milan took advantage of the few chances they got and had all the luck," said 23-year-old Bobby Heynes, who flew over from Dublin, Ireland.

As he prepared to enter a post-match party, Heynes reflected on the club's future.

"We need to have a big clearout in the summer and make some major singings," he said. "Maybe then we will be able to win in Europe again and challenge for the Premier League."

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