Two goals in the last three minutes saw AC Milan scrape through to the Champions League semi-finals with a 3-1 victory over Lyon to save the city’s footballing honour.
AC Milan were drawing 1-1 at home yesterday, losing on the away goal rule, until Filippo Inzaghi struck his second of the night. Ukrainian marksman Andriy Shevchenko added a cruel third in injury-time to put a flattering tint to the scoreline.
There was no such storyline for Inter Milan at Villarreal. The Spanish side, the surprise packages of this season’s Champions League on their debut in the tournament, snatched a 1-0 win over the Italians and went through on away goals after the tie ended 2-2 on aggregate.
AC Milan’s victory could have a bitter sweet tinge to it as they may well face Barcelona in the last four provided the Spanish giants overcome Benfica at home today. “Barcelona are scary,” admitted Inzaghi.
The 32-year-old was probably contemplating just watching them on TV until Shevchenko’s cross shot was tipped onto the far post by Lyon ’keeper Gregory Coupet and rolled along the line leaving him just a simple tap-in.
However for coach Ancelotti and his players it edges them one step nearer to erasing memories of their nightmare in last year’s final when they lost on penalties against Liverpool, having been 3-0 up at half-time.
Lyon coach Gerard Houllier had been having a magic night until those last three minutes and was understandably desperately disappointed as he had sought to go at least a step further than his predecessor at the club Paul Le Guen had done or indeed he had at his previous club, Liverpool.
For his outstanding Brazilian playmaker Juninho it was a case of what goes in the domestic league for them does not in the champions league. His first-half free-kick had led to Mahamadou Diarra’s equalising goal.
Meanwhile, a headed goal from Argentine defender Rodolfo Arruabarrena 13 minutes into the second half saw Villarreal into the last four, leaving Inter’s dreams of adding a third European crown and first in 41 year in tatters.