It was hard to find a pulse in this match. But there were plenty of dives and fouls to be found. And Alessandro Nesta so ham handedly feigned an injury that even his medical staff could not be bothered to come to his rescue. Rafa Benitez seems to have gone back to what undid Liverpool in the beginning of the season, tinkering with the team. Wrong match to do it.
Milan won 2-1 against Liverpool and avenged their stunning 2005 loss but in this match, except for a couple of occasions, the vaunted Milan midfield went to sleep for huge chunks of time. It was little striker, Pippo Inzaghi who shouldered a ball in past Reina from a Pirlo freekick. Inzaghi's fortuitous deflection knocked the ball into the net when its original trajectory would have carried it safely into the hands of Reina. This happened just before halftime against the run of play because it was Liverpool that looked like it was getting on the board first.
Kaka was a shadow of the player we know but just before the end of the match he performed a bit of magic and threaded the ball into Inzaghi who side stepped Reina and angled the ball home. A pair for Inzaghi. Not bad for a man earning a living of poaching goals by beating the offside trap. He probably does not have too many fans outside of Milan but goals are what matters. Ancelotti put Inzaghi there for that very purpose, and Pippo delivered. But there was nothing magical about Milan. It was not the same team that came out and played Man Utd in those exhilarating semi-final encounters.
Most of what Milan played seemed to be a hail Mary type of long ball to Inzaghi. Gone was the smooth and anticipatory movement of the ball between the quick feet of Kaka, Seedorf, and Pirlo. Milan even had problems trapping the ball cleanly and coughed up the ball way too easily. The Milan defense was unable to clear the ball on numerous occasions and the Liverpool lads were far better than them in winning the 50/50 balls. All that pre match speculation of man to man marking on Kaka did not materialize because he rarely threatened. No one player had to police him.
The saving grace for Milan was that unlike 2005, Liverpool was not able to raise its game. Gerrard was off with his timing and the couple of occasions he came close to scoring goals, he rushed his shots, and Dida was able to come up with some fine saves. Alonso was ineffective and gave up far too many cheap fouls, one that led to the Pirlo freekick and the first Inzaghi goal. Zenden was not match fit and had a hard time keeping up with the pace of the game, resorting to a number of fouls too. Mascherano was the only solid midfielder and he looked good on both ends of the ball. But he was not going to win the game all by himself. Pennant had a good first half running Marek Janulovski ragged down the right flank. He created at few chances and gained Liverpool a couple of corners. Liverpool's finishing let them down. Alonso, Gerrard, and Riise did let a couple of good ones rip but their direction was off. Kewell and Crouch were introduced as late game substitutions but they were unable to do much as Liverpool ran out of time. Kuyt pulled one back in the last minute of the game but it was too little too late.