Football: Mijatovic restores Real's glory

European Cup final: Spanish champions end 32-year wait and inflict Juventus' second successive disappointment
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The Independent Online
Juventus 0 Real Madrid 1

THE ghosts of Real Madrid's fabled past were laid to rest in the stadium of the future last night. In front of a capacity crowd at the stunning new Amsterdam ArenA, and an estimated 500m-plus television audience across the globe, Predrag Mijatovic scored the goal that finally ended more than three decades of frustration.

Mijatovic's goal, 23 minutes from the end of an absorbing European Cup final, was taken with a composure that belied the occasion but typified Real's performance. The Montenegrin, who will be playing for Yugoslavia in the World Cup, will now join the likes of Di Stefano and Puskas in the legends.

This was their seventh Champions' Cup success but their first since 1966, and the years of failure have fed an obsession which has taken the club to the brink of bankruptcy. However, when the ebullient president, Lorenzo Sanz, examines a debt approaching pounds 70m this morning, he will consider it money well spent.

More pressing is the future of Jupp Heynckes. The German coach was expected to be pushed out after this match and did himself few favours by dropping Fernando Sanz, the president's son, in favour of Manuel Sanchis. However, the way both his players and the Madrid supporters celebrated with Heynckes suggests an accommodation may need to be be found.

As Madrid celebrated Juventus, the overwhelming favourites to achieve a second title in three years, were left to regret a series of misses by Filippo Inzaghi. The pounds 9m striker has scored 27 goals this season but his touch deserted him when he needed it most.

With 21 internationals from nine countries involved, the match was not so much a World Cup appetiser as a feast in its own right. The prolonged build-up was expected to add to the nerves felt by Madrid, and they did start slowly. Juventus thus took the game to them, with Zinedine Zidane the central figure. The balding Frenchman was ever-available and often found as he linked the Italian champions' sweeping attacks.

Didier Deschamps and Angelo di Livio each worried Real with early shots, the latter's being deflected just past the post by Roberto Carlos. Then Zidane, running on to Alessandro del Piero's quick-witted pass, hit the side netting when he should have scored. In response Mijatovic went close with foot and head while Angelo Peruzzi had to save sharply from Fernando Hierro's free-kick.

Slowly Fernando Redondo and Christian Karembeu wrested control in midfield, allowing Clarence Seedorf and Mijatovic to attack the Italian defence. This should have led to a goal after 25 minutes but Raul steered his shot, from Mijatovic's cross, into the side netting.

The miss was replayed five times on the big screens during the interval - fortunately the youngster was still in the dressing-room - but it was soon superseded by a worse miss, Mark Iuliano finishing like the centre- half he is after Zidane's inswinging corner had caused chaos.

The game remained even but Juventus carved out the better chances. Just before the hour Edgar Davids, on the left, picked out Inzaghi, who had pulled away at the far post. He chested the ball down but his volley was too close to Bodo Illgner and the goalkeeper tipped it over.

Three minutes later Inzaghi missed again, less forgivably, as a free- kick from Zidane broke through the wall and fell to him six yards out. His shot was too weak and Illgner grabbed it with relief.

Chances of such quality usually need to be taken at this level and, after 66 minutes, Inzaghi paid for his profligacy. A cross from the right came to Roberto Carlos who, as usual, tried a shot. It lacked his usual power but a deflection steered the ball to Mijatovic, who calmly dummied Peruzzi before scoring. It was his first goal of the competition. The Madrid fans, who had turned the north end into a mini-Santiago Bernabeu, exulted.

Two minutes later their celebrations were almost stilled as Inzaghi was given the chance to make amends. But, set up by Del Piero, he shot wide. Juventus brought on Daniel Fonseca, piled on the pressure, and with 15 minutes left were almost rewarded as Davids battled through three ineffectual tackles only to shoot weakly.

It was to prove their last effort. With Zidane a spent force, their attacks lacked guile and Madrid, with Hierro in commanding form, repelled them with ease.

The final whistle sparked ecstatic celebrations concluding with Fernando Morientes, bent low with the cup held in front of him, charging playfully forward as Redondo held out a Spanish flag like a bull-fighters' cape. Ole!

Juventus (3-5-2): Peruzzi; Torricelli, Montero, Iuliano; Di Livio (Tacchinardi, h-t), Deschamps (Conte, 77), Zidane, Davids, Pessotto (Fonseca, 70); Inzaghi, Del Piero. Substitutes not used: Rampulla (gk), Dimas, Birindelli, Amoruso.

Real Madrid (4-3-1-2): Illgner; Panucci, Hierro, Sanchis, Roberto Carlos; Seedorf, Karembeu, Redondo, Raul (Amavisca, 90); Morientes (Jaime, 81), Mijatovic (Suker, 88). Substitutes not used: Canizares (gk), Victor, Sanz, Savio.

Referee: H Krug (Germany).