Gérard Houllier, a delighted visitor to the victorious Liverpool dressing-room after Milan collapsed so dramatically in the Champions' League final last May, was three minutes from standing centre-stage in putting the Italians out of this season's competition.
His vibrant Lyon side, heading for a fifth successive French championship, were denied a first appearance in the semi-finals by two goals right at the death as Milan completed a startling comeback of their own.
If no spectator could begrudge one cent of the €2m (£1.44m) handed over to watch last night's fun, the 9,000 Lyon followers were entitled to feel aggrieved after such a confident, positive performance. Houllier, equally proud of the players and fans, said: "It's an enormous disappointment after a very good performance in a very good match. At this level you've got to take your chances."
Having made a bright start, Lyon did not deserve to fall behind, even for seven minutes, and there were several nasty moments for the home side even before the loss of Jaap Stam with less than a quarter of the evening run,injured conceding a free-kick.
Shortly afterwards Filippo Inzaghi headed in Clarence Seedorf's fine cross. But soon Milan foolishly conceded a free-kick to the dead-ball specialist Juninho, and with Dida hampered by three unguarded attackers, Mahamadou Diarra bravely headed in the loose ball.
With barely three minutes remaining, Andrei Shevchenko, hitherto quiet, had a shot pushed on to both posts, Inzaghi following up to claim the final touch. In added time Shevchenko intercepted an errant back-pass to conjure up an unrepresentative scoreline.
Milan (4-3-1-2): Dida; Stam (Costacurta, 22), Nesta, Kaladze, Serginho; Gattuso (Maldini, 78), Pirlo (Ambrosini, 70), Seedorf; Kaka; Inzaghi, Shevchenko. Substitutes not used: Kalac (gk), Rui Costa, Gilardino, Vogel.
Lyon (4-4-2): Coupet; Clerc, Cris, Cacapa, Abidal; Govou (Réveillère, 84), Diarra, Juninho, Malouda; Wiltord, Fred (Carew, 70). Substitutes not used: Vercoutre (gk), Mueller, Clement, Benzama, Pedretti.
Referee: T Hauge (Norway).Reuse content