Thursday, May 03, 2007

AC Milan crush some dreams

Football is a magical game. It arouses passions like no other game does.

Milan, which has never lost to Manchester United over two legs, knocked the English team out of the European Championship as it did in the semifinals in 1958 and 1969, only with a superb performance.

The result ended United's hopes of repeating its 1999 treble of the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup titles.

With history on its side, Milan has also crushed Manchester United's hopes of creating the first ever English final, were they to advance to the final and face familiar rivals Liverpool who beat Chelsea to book their berth in the final.

Greek authorities who have allotted to deploy 20,000 police officers from Athens and other Greek cities to control any violence at the final, would have a sigh of relief now that two English sides would not face each other.

Going up to defend a 3-2 lead from the first leg, United was acutely aware that they would have to play at their best to prevail over Milan .

As United manager Alex Ferguson ruefully said, "We never came out of the blocks.''

An Italian commentator wrote that it was an evening to remember both for Milan and Italian football as a whole for Milan's exhibition was majestic. He couldn't have been more true for this performance.

So the two most famous clubs in English football will not meet on the pitch of the Olympic Stadium in Athens, and neither will their followers have a chance to add to the existing ruins in that ancient city.

To the United manager's enduring credit, he acknowledged that his side was outclassed this time. There is no finger pointing at a refereeing conspiracy or an injury crisis.

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