Football: Juventus wrecked by German bite

EUROPEAN CUP FINAL: Riedle and Ricken secure first triumph for Dortmund as favourites flop on big night
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The Independent Online
Borussia Dortmund 3 Juventus 1

Being the better team is not enough. It never was. Juventus painfully learned the lesson, indeed crushingly, in the Olympic Stadium here last night where Karlheinz Riedle, the Borussia striker, knocked them cold with two goals in four minutes after half an hour. They never recovered.

Borussia thus confounded the pundits, turned the European Champions' Cup final on its head, and won the trophy for the first time. Ultimately, they handsomely deserved to do so.

Their victory means that there will now be three German clubs in next season's "Almost Champions' League": Bayern, the Bundesliga winners, second- placed Leverkusen and Borussia as holders. With four former Juventus players in their line-up, Stefan Reuter, Andreas Moller, Jurgen Kohler and Paulo Sousa, Borussia sent the critics reeling as they floored the team which few thought capable of losing, the supposed masters of 1996-97.

"They can't fail," such expert judges as Johan Cruyff had predicted. How often the game deceives us. The World Club champions, who last year had defeated Ajax on penalties and had consumed such virile opposition this season as Paris St-Germain and Milan, dominated the early phase without fully exploiting their command. Nobody can be temporarily outplayed and not seem to notice in the way that German teams so often do. From the brink of a beating, Borussia sprang to glory.

Alen Boksic of Croatia and Christian Vieri may have been the more technically accomplished forwards, Zinedine Zidane, Didier Deschamps and Vladimir Jugovic the more imaginative midfield players. Yet Borussia delivered. They and their hordes of yellow-and-black supporters, who made this almost a home match down in Bavaria, were understandably ecstatic at the finish, having achieved the apparently impossible. The stadium was a cacophony of celebration.

The Juventus players were tearfully distraught. There can come a moment in any professional's career, intolerable in spite of all the contemporary wealth, when he knows he has blown a chance for making history. Juventus, so gifted, hitherto so successful, had blown theirs.

How simple and calm it had all seemed at the start, their progress towards the expected retention of the cup. Borussia may have begun brightly for the first few minutes, the piercing runs of Riedle and Stephane Chapuisat stretching the Italian back four, yet Borussia's midfield was looking prosaic by comparison with their opposite numbers. We wondered how long the veteran Matthias Sammer could hold out against Vieri and Boksic, the latter having remarkable acceleration for such a big man, his turning and close control being maintained even when under intense pressure. Sammer's timing of interceptions had not deserted him, so that Vieri and Boksic saw chances come and go.

When Borussia's came, they took them. In the 30th minute, with Juventus now clearly having the match in hand, Moller took a corner at the other end. Juventus's ranks partially cleared, Paul Lambert drove it back hard and low and from close range Riedle, with deft control, had the ball in the net.

Suddenly this poised Juventus defence was in panic. Paolo Montero, the Uruguayan centre-back, conceded another corner under pressure. Again Moller swung the kick into the goalmouth. With the Italians uncharacteristically caught ball-watching, Riedle rose to head thunderously into the net, a goal as fierce as many a shot.

Vainly did Juventus cling to some hope in the remaining minutes before half-time. Zidane, feinting past two men, struck a low shot which beat the diving Stefan Klos but rebounded to safety from the foot of the left post. Vieri scored, but had handled in the process. Twisting this way and that Boksic and Vieri carved a gap, but Vieri's shot flew wide.

In desperation Marcello Lippi, the Juve coach, sent out Alessandro Del Piero as an additional forward for the second half in place of Sergio Porrini at right-back, leaving a rearguard of three. But Del Piero has been bothered by injury, yet duly supplied the lift for which the Italians were searching.

First, however, Riedle all but scored a third goal, diving low to meet Moller's swerving free-kick from the left, the ball flashing a yard wide of the right-hand post.

With 25 minutes remaining Boksic pulled a pass back from the left and Del Piero, though surrounded by markers and with his back to goal, glanced the ball past Sammer and under Klos. Now the heat was on.

Not for long. Five minutes later Lars Ricken came on as replacement for Chapuisat. With Juventus caught pressing forward, Borussia counter-attacked and a long through pass found Ricken racing clear. With his first touch he lobbed over the advancing Angelo Peruzzi and sad Juventus, as they say in the Mafia movies, were dead in the water.

Borussia Dortmund (3-5-2): Klos; Kohler, Sammer, Kree; Reuter, Moller (Zorc, 88), Lambert, Sousa, Heinrich; Riedle (Herrlich, 67), Chapuisat (Ricken, 69). Substitutes not used: Tretschok, De Beer (gk).

Juventus (4-4-2): Peruzzi; Porrini (Del Piero, h-t), Montero, Ferrara, Juliano; Di Livio, Zidane, Deschamps, Jugovic; Boksic (Tacchinardi, 87), Vieri (Amoruso, 74). Substitutes not used: Pessotto, Rampulla (gk).

Referee: S Puhl (Hungary).