Savicevic the master as Milan prevail

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The Independent Online
reports from the San Siro

Milan 2

Paris St-Germain 0

(Milan win 3-0 on aggregate)

Milan, the European Cup holders, strolled confidently into their eighth final last night with a performance that was always smooth and occasionally inspirational. Dejan Savicevic, who is blessed with copious amounts of both qualities, proved the matchwinner, just as he was when they beat Barcelona to win the trophy last May.

Facing a Parisian side that seemed overawed by the task that faced them, he scored after 20 and 67 minutes to give Milan an unassailable lead. Paris St-Germain, nave at the back, frightened in midfield and, consequently, innocuous in attack, were simply swept aside.

While Milan were bidding for the chance to draw level with the six-times champions, Real Madrid, Paris were seeking their first final. After being beaten by an injury-time goal from Zvonimir Boban in Paris they had to win. Valdo, who did not play in Paris, replaced his fellow Brazilian Rai with orders to push up behind David Ginola and George Weah.

Milan brought in the veteran Mauro Tassotti, rather than Filippo Galli, for Alessandro Costacurta. Costacurta, having been suspended for the World Cup final and last season's European Cup final, had taken no chances this time and got his suspension in first by being booked in Paris.

Tassotti was promptly booked after two minutes by Les Mottram, the Scottish referee, which made him the 10th Milan player on the pitch on a yellow card. A dozen minutes later he hobbled off, Galli came on, and Milan reshaped the back four.

The change mattered little. Milan were already in control. While Paris were restricted in attack to long shots - and a sliced clearance over his own bar by Franco Baresi - Milan were busy tearing holes in the fabric of their defence.

Bernard Lama had already tipped a Demetrio Albertini free-kick over when Boban found Savicevic unmarked 12 yards out. The Montenegrin shot tamely at him but, eight minutes later, he was less wasteful. Running on to Albertini's pass he guided the bobbling ball past Ricardo, then slipped it inside Lama's far post.

The stadium, brimful with nearly 80,000 fans paying more than £1m, erupted. A minute later Christian Panucci, drifting on to Boban's cross, should have made it two. That would have settled it; instead Milan sat back and sought to kill the game in the traditional Italian manner. It was a dangerous game but, a shot into the side-netting from Ginola apart, it saw them to the break with ease.

Vincent Guerin did manage a dangerous shot which was blocked seven minutes into the second half but, by then, Stefano Eranio and Boban should both have punished Paris's defensive laxity and only a desperate interception by Valdo had stopped Paolo Maldini from doing so.

Eventually Marcel Desailly, who had interrupted so many incipient French moves, did so again. He slipped the ball to Savicevic who scored with the comfort that had marked Milan's progress all night.

Milan (4-4-2): Rossi; Tassotti (Galli, 15), Maldini, Baresi, Panucci; Eranio, Desailly, Albertini, Boban; Savicevic, Simone (Donadoni, 78).

Paris St-Germain (4-4-2): Lama; Cobos (Sechet, 75), Roche, Ricardo, Colleter; Guerin, Valdo (Nouma, 68), Bravo, Le Guen; Ginola, Weah.

Referee: L Mottram (Scotland).

Yesterday's results, page 39