Milan sweep aside United to set up date with destiny

Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan – 02/05/2007 – Semi-finals
Milan
Milan
Kaká 11 Seedorf 30 Gilardino 78
3 - 0
Man. United
Man. United
Tactical masterclass

"To play the way we did in the first half is a dream for a coach – it was perfect football." Carlo Ancelotti

2006/07

• Roy Makaay struck the fastest goal in the competition's history – after 10.12 seconds – during the second leg of FC Bayern München's round of 16 tie against Real Madrid CF in Germany.

• At 38 years and 332 days, Paolo Maldini became the oldest titleholder in UEFA Champions League history as Italian side AC Milan won the competition for a record-equalling third time.

• FC Spartak Moskva (22) and AEK Athens FC (21) ended the longest winless runs in the competition's history, respectively beating Sporting Clube de Portugal 3-1 and LOSC Lille Métropole 1-0.

Clinical, shrewd and dynamic, AC Milan shrugged off Manchester United FC's 3-2 first-leg advantage in emphatic fashion, winning 3-0 at San Siro to book a second final meeting in three years with Liverpool FC.

United had trailed AS Roma 2-1 after the opening instalment of their quarter-final tie, only to outclass the Giallorossi 7-1 back at Old Trafford. In the last four, though, the boot was firmly on the other foot. Carlo Ancelotti's Milan oozed style in the Italian capital of fashion, their visitors were mere observers throughout.

The Rossoneri set about overturning United's lead in a manner which suggested they were seeking to match their opponents' feats of the previous round. Scorer of both their goals in the first leg, Kaká was once again the star of the show. The Brazil forward took little time to show up Nemanja Vidić – restored to United's depleted defence after more than a month out – ghosting past the centre-back before flashing a cross-shot narrowly wide.

Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf tested compatriot Edwin van der Sar from range and Sir Alex Ferguson's charges appeared overawed – inside 11 minutes they were behind. Seedorf met a long ball forward with a cute back header which Kaká allowed to bounce once before drilling into the bottom corner.

Provider that time, the Netherlands midfielder was equally accurate from the edge of the penalty area on the half-hour. Though Seedorf's finish did the damage, it was Gabriel Heinze's risky pass and Vidić's subsequent slip which was the catalyst for a devilish Andrea Pirlo cross.

Brimming with creative menace and consolidated by wise heads in midfield, Milan never looked in danger thereafter. Massimo Ambrosini epitomised their wily approach, but it was the Italian international's more rakish side which created the hosts' third with 12 minutes remaining.

Ambrosini's delightful pass from inside his own half located Alberto Gilardino, stationed at the heart of a gaping hole in United's defence. He raced clear, opened up his body and caressed the ball beyond Van der Sar. An elegant goal to cap a forceful performance.

"It was an evening of dreams," said Carlo Ancelotti. "To play the way we did in the first half is a dream for a coach – it was perfect football."

Star players

  • Kaká

    Kaká quickly endeared himself to the AC Milan faithful after joining from São Paulo FC in 2003, opening his account against FC Internazionale Milano. He won his sole Serie A title that season and also has the 2007 UEFA Champions League and a 25-minute cameo in Brazil's 2002 FIFA World Cup triumph on his CV. A stylish forward with a devastating turn of pace, Kaká joined Real Madrid CF for a then world record €60m in June 2009.

  • Seedorf

    The first man to win the UEFA Champions League with three different clubs, Seedorf was a product of the esteemed AFC Ajax academy. The Suriname-born Dutch international became the Amsterdam side's youngest-ever debutant aged 16 years, 242 days. A crafty midfielder with an eye for goal, Seedorf lifted the 1995 UEFA Champions League with Ajax and also won Europe's premier club competition with Real Madrid CF (1998) and AC Milan (2003, 2007).

  • Rooney

    "The best young player this country has seen in 30 years", was sir Alex Ferguson's assessment of Rooney when Manchester United FC signed him from Everton FC in August 2004. Then the youngest scorer in Premier League history, he struck an audacious hat-trick on his United debut – a 6-2 UEFA Champions League group stage win against Fenerbahçe SK – and won the competition in 2008. He has four English titles to his name.

What happened next?

• AC Milan met Liverpool FC in the final for the second time in three seasons. The Rossoneri exacted revenge for their dramatic 2005 defeat, winning 2-1 in Athens thanks to two Filippo Inzaghi goals.

• While Milan finished fourth in Serie A, Manchester United FC took solace from winning their first Premier League title in four seasons. Sir Alex Ferguson's side lost 1-0 to Chelsea FC in the FA Cup final, however.

• United beat Leonardo's Milan 7-3 in the 2009/10 round of 16. It was a sign of things to come: the Rossoneri were eliminated by English opposition three times in four seasons after their 2007 triumph.

• Carlo Ancelotti and Sir Alex renewed acquaintances when the former took over at Chelsea in summer 2009. The Italian won the Premier League in his first season, ending United's three-year monopoly.

• Kaká ended as the tournament's top scorer with ten goals and was crowned the 2007 Ballon d'Or winner and UEFA Club Footballer of the Year. He commanded a €68m fee when he joined Real Madrid CF in 2009.

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