Kaka leads Milan charge toward semi-finals with double strike

Gordon Tynan
Wednesday 24 March 2004 01:00

Milan took a giant stride towards the semi-finals of the Champions' League last night when they defeated Deportivo La Coruña 4-1 in their home leg of the quarter-finals.

The Italian side took control of the tie with a devastating burst of scoring midway through the game. Kaka scored on the stroke of half-time, and added Milan's third in the 49th minute after Andriy Shevchenko had netted their second within a minute of the resumption. Andrea Pirlo wrapped up the scoring in the 53rd minute.

That onslaught crushed a Deportivo side that appeared to be doing everything right up until that point. Walter Pandiani had claimed an away goal with a header after only 11 minutes to put them ahead, but now they face an uphill task to rescue the tie in the return in Spain in two weeks' time.

The Spanish club may have been pondering a repeat of their last visit to Italy in the previous round, when they knocked out last season's finalists, Juventus, with a single goal by Pandiani.

Milan showed why they are leading Serie A with the qualifty of their finishing. The equaliser resulted from a Brazilian double act. Cafu crossed and Kaka brought the ball down on his thigh before volleying home.

The second half was only 20 seconds old when the Ukrainian striker Shevchenko shrugged off two defenders and put Milan ahead with a curling shot. Kaka produced another deadly piece of finishing from the edge of the area after being set up by Clarence Seedorf, and then Pirlo drove in a 25-yard free-kick.

Paolo Maldini, Milan's captain, broke the Dutchman Frank de Boer's record for most matches in European club competitions with his 130th appearance.

Milan look set to progress to a semi-final that seems likely to pit them against Porto after goals from Deco Souza and Ricardo Carvalho gave them a 2-0 win at home to Lyon.

Deco managed to steer in a snapshot from Benni McCarthy in the 44th minute to give Porto the lead in a one-sided match. Carlos Alberto came close to adding a second at the start of the second half when he raced in from the right touchline but fired his shot over the bar.

Porto continued to create chances and they were rewarded for their patient approach when Carvalho headed in a Deco free-kick from the right for the second after 71 minutes.

The closest the French side came to scoring an away goal that would have given them a better chance of progressing after the second leg was in the 39th minute when the ball broke to Sidney Govou on the edge of the penalty area but his shot was deflected over.

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