Milan triumph again in MonacoFriday 31 August 2007
AC Milan came from behind to defeat Sevilla FC 3-1 in Monaco and claim the UEFA Super Cup for a record fifth time on a night which served as a fitting tribute to the memory of Antonio Puerta.
Puerta appeared as a substitute as Sevilla defeated FC Barcelona 3-0 in the principality last year, and had tonight's game played in his honour following his death on Tuesday. It was to his team-mates' credit that they played with such verve in a first half which saw them open the scoring through Renato, only to be undone by second-half strikes from Filippo Inzaghi, Marek Jankulovski and Kaká as the Rossoneri added this trophy to the UEFA Champions League won in May.
Renato took just seven minutes to open the scoring in last year's defeat of Barça, and he had a presentable chance to eclipse that mark tonight following that rarest of things - a gift from Massimo Oddo. The Italy right-back fluffed an attempted clearance straight into the path of the Sevilla forward who fizzed a drive wide from just inside the box. Two minutes later Milan signalled their intent, Inzaghi twisting to find space to shoot only for Kaká to steal in and toe a shot against the outside of the post under pressure from Daniel Alves.
While Daniel Alves - recalled after impressing Juande Ramos with his desire in training last night - offered the UEFA Cup winners width down the right, Duda was equally lively on the left flank. The Portuguese won a corner in the 14th minute from a delicious centre, and promptly sent in another to the far post from the opposite side which Renato headed beyond the sprawling Dida via a deflection off Oddo. From the way the Sevilla players joined together to point to the heavens - there was no doubt as to where their thoughts lay.
Milan were on the back foot, and fortunate not to concede a second on 25 minutes as Gennaro Gattuso's attempt to intercept a speedy Sevilla counter only resulted him sliding the ball to Frédéric Kanoute who rounded Dida but played his pass behind Renato. The No11 had been clear on goal but the split-second it took him to control the ball enabled Alessandro Nesta to get back and show wonderful athleticism to divert the shot wide with his goalkeeper beaten.
A set-piece from the Milanello training ground almost saw Seedorf head the European champions level just shy of the half-hour, and Inzaghi did just that ten minutes into the second half when timing a run to the far post to perfection to nod in Gattuso's inviting cross from the right. It is not without ruthlessness that Milan have been Europe's premier team for two decades, and they underlined that streak after 62 minutes as Andrea Pirlo flighted a crossfield pass from inside his own half into the opposing box where Jankulovski expertly volleyed it with his left foot across Andrés Palop and into the far corner.
Even after Kaká's 87th-minute goal - heading in the rebound after Palop had saved his penalty - the Sevilla fans refused to be silenced. "We love you Puerta" rang out from the clock end as its hands ticked towards full time. Their collective grief was perhaps best summed up, though, by a simple banner hung from the railings at the front of the stand: 'Puerta presente'.
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