Shevchenko's 'away' goal fires Milan into final

Internazionale 1 Milan 1 <i>Aggregate 1-1; Milan win on away goal</i>
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An "away goal" on home turf settled the Milanese derby here last night, probably the most surreal result in the long history of the European Champions' Cup.

An "away goal" on home turf settled the Milanese derby here last night, probably the most surreal result in the long history of the European Champions' Cup.

Scored by Andriy Shevchenko in first-half stoppage time, it earned Milan a place in their ninth final, ending an eight-year wait. Although Internazionale levelled through Obafemi Martins seven minutes from time, they could not prevent their rivals, with whom they share this stadium, progressing in the cruellest of fashions.

Carlo Ancelotti's team, which combines ruthlessness and grace in equal measure from defence to attack, will face Real Madrid or Juventus in the Old Trafford final on 28 May. It will be their second final on British turf, as they beat Benfica at Wembley in 1963.

While Paolo Maldini will be seeking his fourth winner's medal in his sixth final, a feat not achieved since the Real Madrid team of the early years, for Clarence Seedorf an even more remarkable place in history beckons. Having previously succeeded with Ajax and Real Madrid, the Dutch midfielder has the chance to become the first man to win a European Cup with three different clubs. Seedorf also played for Inter, but did not reach the final with them; no one has since 1972.

The discrepancy made this derby more important than any of the previous 254. No shirt went untugged and no decision uncontested. The tension was evident in the way Ancelotti and his Inter counterpart, Hector Cuper, nervously prowled their technical areas.

Their anxiety infected the players and the tackles bit. The first match had passed without a caution but Filipo Inzaghi precipitated a glut of bookings shortly after the half-hour. Ivan Cordoba was trying to shepherd the ball back to Francesco Toldo when Inzaghi clattered into them, sparking several mêlées. Inzaghi was cautioned, swiftly followed by Rene Gattuso, Luigi Di Biagio and Rui Costa as the referee, Gilles Veissière, just managed to stop the game boiling over.

Between the squabbles there had been sporadic flashes of inspiration. The first came from Andrea Pirlo, who attempted to beat the inattentive Toldo from a 40-yard free-kick much as Ronaldinho had done David Seaman. Pirlo proved less accurate and it was not until the 23rd minute that Toldo was tested, when he cleared smartly as Inzaghi attacked Shevchenko's clever chested pass. At the other end, Christian Abbiati had only to field a tame shot from Hernan Crespo.

In view of the supremacy of both defences, Shevchenko's goal was a surprise to all. Taking a pass from Seedorf, he nut-megged Cordoba then scooped the ball over Toldo. It was his 10th goal against Inter and the red bank of Rossoneri, packed into their traditional end on the Curva Sud, greeted it with delirium.

Having conceded an "away" goal, Inter needed to score twice. As they had failed to find the net in three matches against Milan this season, it was a tall order. In an attempt to meet it Cuper brought on Martins and Stephane Dalmat.

Although Martins committed defenders with his running, the change reaped no immediate reward and Shevchenko almost settled the tie with a curling shot soon after the hour. An increasingly desperate Inter overcame their inferiority complex but, with Abbiati parrying Emre Belozoglu's free-kick, Milan remained comfortable until Alessandro Costacurta looped a wild clearance towards his own goal. Martins went up for it with Maldini and, when the ball broke off the Nigerian's back, the pace of youth was decisive.

The Nerazzurri went wild and Inter surged forward, but Abbiati denied Mohammed Kallon and Cordoba to extend their 31 years of hurt and provide the watching Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's prime minister and Milan's owner, some relief from his trial on corruption charges.

Internazionale (3-5-2): Toldo; Cordoba, Materazzi, Cannavaro; J Zanetti, Conceicão, C Zanetti, Di Biagio (Dalmat, h-t), Emre; Crespo (Kallon, 71), Recoba (Obafemi, h-t). Substitutes not used: Fontana (gk), Gamarra, Pasquale, Vivas.

Milan (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; Costacurta, Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze; Gattuso, Pirlo (Brocchi, 89), Seedorf; Rui Costa (Ambrosini, 64); Inzaghi (Serghino, 80), Shevchenko. Substitutes not used: Fiori (gk), Rivaldo, Tomasson, Roque Junior.

Referee: G Veissière (France).

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