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Match report and player ratings - BBC

Liverpool beat AC Milan 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out to win the Champions League after sensationally coming from three goals down at half-time.

Paolo Maldini gave Milan a first-minute lead and Hernan Crespo's double gave Milan a seemingly unassailable lead. Steven Gerrard gave Liverpool hope and Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso levelled in a seven-minute spell. Jerzy Dudek then saved from Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko in the shoot-out to clinch a stunning victory.

It capped an amazing turnaround, with Liverpool looking out of contention after they were completely outclassed in the first-half. Liverpool's advance to the final was a major shock as they invaded the established order of Europe's footballing elite - over-turning the odds against Juventus and Chelsea to reach Istanbul. And in a show of character that broke Italian hearts they claimed the trophy for the fifth time - a feat that ensures the trophy will now stay at Anfield permanently.

Liverpool's fans were determined to savour the occasion, with well in excess of their official 20,000 ticket allocation inside the Ataturk Stadium at kick-off.

Manager Rafael Benitez made a bold team selection when he excluded Dietmar Hamann and Igor Biscan - so successful in the European campaign - on the sidelines in favour of Harry Kewell. It was a decision that back-fired in the worst possible fashion in a catastrophic first 45 minutes for Liverpool.

Milan were ahead inside the first minute, when Pirlo's free-kick was met by the unmarked Maldini, who swept a finish high past Dudek. Liverpool's lack of a holding midfield player allowed Milan to cut a swathe past Gerrard and Alonso. And Kewell's ill-fated selection looked even more of a failed gamble when he limped off with a groin injury after only 22 minutes, to be replaced by Smicer.

Milan ended the first half exerting almost embarrassing domination, with two strikes in the last six minutes of the opening period. Shevchenko broke away down the right flank in a sweeping attack, and crossed for Crespo to turn home from close range.

And four minutes later, Milan added a third when Brazilian Kaka, the most influential player in the first 45 minutes, unlocked Liverpool's defence with a brilliant pass that released Crespo for a clever chip over the onrushing Dudek.

Benitez made a change at half-time - introducing Hamman for Steve Finnan, who had a thigh injury. Dudek produced a fine diving save from Shevchenko's free-kick to stop Liverpool going four down before Benitez's side launched an astonishing comeback. Gerrard threw Liverpool a lifeline with a header from John Arne Riise's cross after 53 minutes, and when Dida fumbled in Smicer's tame 25-yard shot a minute later, they were alive again.

And Liverpool's recovery was complete on the hour when Gennaro Gattuso pulled down Gerrard in the area as he was poised to equalise.

Dida saved Alonso's spot-kick, but the Spanish midfield man followed up to score the rebound with Milan's defenders looking on in stunned disbelief. The massed ranks of Liverpool supporters, who sat in desolation during the interval, were now in ecstasy and contemplating a victory that seemed impossible just 15 minutes earlier.

The final then reverted to a cat-and-mouse affair, but Djimi Traore rescued a poor personal display when he cleared off the line from Shevchenko after Dudek fumbled Crespo's cross. Milan dominated possession in extra-time, and they were denied by a miracle double save by Dudek from Shevchenko with three minutes remaining. He blocked Shevchenko's header then somehow diverted his shot over the top from only a yard out.

Serginho and Pirlo missed Milan's first two penalties, while Hamann and Djibril Cisse were on target for Liverpool. Substitute Jon Dahl Tomasson put Milan in contention before Riise missed for Liverpool.

Kaka scored for Milan, and after Smicer scored for Liverpool, Shevchenko's kick was saved by Dudek to spark wild scenes of celebration.

AC Milan: Dida, Cafu, Maldini, Stam, Nesta, Gattuso (Rui Costa 112), Seedorf (Serginho 86), Pirlo, Kaka, Shevchenko, Crespo (Tomasson 85).
Subs Not Used: Abbiati, Kaladze, Costacurta, Dhorasoo.

Goals: Maldini 1, Crespo 39, 44.

Liverpool: Dudek, Finnan (Hamann 46), Traore, Hyypia, Carragher, Riise, Gerrard, Luis Garcia, Alonso, Kewell (Smicer 23), Baros (Cisse 85).
Subs Not Used: Carson, Josemi, Nunez, Biscan.

Booked: Carragher, Baros.

Goals: Gerrard 54, Smicer 56, Alonso 59.

Att: 65,000.

Ref: Manuel Enrique Mejuto Gonzalez (Spain).

Jerzy Dudek (STAR MAN) - 9: Unsure at times but emerged the hero of the night with vital saves, including a wonder stop to deny Shevchenko in dying stages and two saves in the shoot-out.

Steve Finnan - 6: Offered some attacking threat but often ran down blind alleys. Injury forced him off at interval.

Djimi Traore - 6: All at sea in the first half. More like the new Traore after including a vital last-ditch clearance.

Jamie Carragher - 7: Unusually off form as Milan dominated but battled cramp to put in some vital interceptions.

Sami Hyypia - 6: Ran ragged by the pace of Shevchenko and Crespo at times but got better as the game progressed.

Steven Gerrard - 8: After an anonymous first half his goal gave them hope. Sterling defensive work and drove his side on.

John-Arne Riise - 6: Spent the first half in Cafu's pocket but contribution improved as the Brazilian ran out of steam

Xabi Alonso - 7: Another to turn up at half-time. Some lovely touches and held nerve to equalise from the spot.

Luis Garcia - 6: Missed Liverpool's only first-half chance and was wasteful with the ball. But looked a danger as the game opened up for the Reds

Harry Kewell - 5: Surprisingly handed a starting role but hobbled off after 23 minutes. Booed by section of fans.

Milan Baros - 5: Had to battle on his own against Stam and Nesta and got little change out of either. Could have played last game for the club.

Vladimir Smicer (Replaced Kewell, 23 minutes) - 7: Marked his final appearance with the crucial second goal.

Dietmar Hamann (Replaced Finnan, 45 minutes) - 7: His arrival proved the catalyst to the astonishing fightback.

Djibril Cisse (Replaced Baros, 85 minutes) - 5: Given time to complete the fairytale comeback from injury. Too eager to impress, he rarely looked like getting the winner.
 
Rafael Benitez - 8: It started abysmally for him but his half-time team-talk and substitution proved inspirational.

AC Milan 

Dida - 5: Shaky. Did not inspire confidence as Liverpool stormed back and should have saved Vladimir Smicer's long-range strike.

Cafu - 6: Up and down the touchline like an energetic teenager during the first half, fewer opportunities to do so as the match wore on.

Jaap Stam - 7: Seemed powerless as the Reds scored three in seven minutes but generally a solid presence in the middle of the Milan defence.

Alessandro Nesta - 7: Crafty, wily and adept at easing people off the ball. He and Stam formed a solid, dependable pairing.

Paolo Maldini - 8: Simply the best. Scored, tore up and down his wing and kept his team-mates cool when Liverpool fought back.

Gennaro Gattuso - 6: Tough, tenacious and terrible to play against, but conceded a clumsy penalty and was lucky to stay on the field.

Andrea Pirlo - 7: Broke up a lot of play and set a lot of Milan moves in motion during an impressive first 45 minutes but went missing after the break.

Clarence Seedorf - 6: Part of a dominant midfield in the first half, but could do nothing to stem the changing tide and was subbed before the end

Kaka - 8: Assured in possession. Set his strikers away with a series of precise, devastating passes as Milan raced into a 3-0 lead at half time.

Hernan Crespo - 8: Scored twice and showed why he is rated so highly in Italy. Worked hard, held the ball up well and tore the Reds' defence to shreds

Andriy Shevchenko - 7: Denied from point-blank range in extra-time and struck a fierce free-kick. His movement caused real problems throughout the game.

Jon Dahl Tomasson (Replaced Crespo, 85 minutes) - 5: Missed a good chance to win the match and struggled to impose himself on the game.

Serginho (Replaced Seedorf, 85 minutes) - 6: Tricky down the left-hand side and forced Steven Gerrard into a defensive role to keep him quiet.

Rui Costa (Replaced Gattuso, 112 minutes) - 6: Almost scored with a corner but had little chance to impress.

Carlo Ancelotti - 5: Predicted an early goal and it duly arrived but could not change the course of the game.

Copyright - BBC

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