Fri, Apr 13, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Liverpool, AC Milan move into semis

ENGLAND EXPECTS Liverpool joined Chelsea and Man United in the Champions League semi-finals, with AC Milan the other team in the final four


Liverpool became the third English team to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League on Wednesday.

Liverpool, a five-time European Cup champion, got a goal from Peter Crouch to beat PSV Eindhoven 1-0 in the second leg and advance 4-0 on aggregate.

Six-time champions AC Milan downed Bayern 2-0 to progress 4-2 on aggregate and claim the other semi-final place.

Clarence Seedorf scored Milan's first goal in the 27th minute and set up Filippo Inzaghi for the second in the 31st.

In the semi-finals, Liverpool will face Chelsea on April 25 and May 1 in a rematch of the 2005 semi-final, which Liverpool won before claiming their most recent European Cup title. Milan will take on Manchester United on April 24 and May 2.

Seedorf put Milan ahead after taking a pass from Kaka and dribbling around a defender before shooting past Bayern goalkeeper Oliver Kahn from the edge of the area.

Four minutes later, Seedorf's deft backheel put Inzaghi through alone on Kahn, and the Italian calmly sent his shot over the onrushing Bayern captain. The goal was Inzaghi's 36th in the Champions League.

"The day couldn't have gone better," Seedorf said. "We played very well defensively and we were always a threat. ... We allowed a couple of early chances but then we scored and we closed our ranks."

Bayern nearly took the lead in the eighth minute. Christian Lell had Milan goalkeeper Dida beaten with a tap off a cross from Mark van Bommel, but defender Massimo Oddo cleared it off the line.

Van Bommel had several chances in the second half, including two shots in the 63rd, as Bayern pressed for goals.

"We got a 2-2 draw in Milan and we had great hope that we would advance. But we always knew that Milan can win away from home," Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said.

Man United manager Alex Ferguson watched Milan's win from the stands.

Crouch, who recently returned from injury and scored in the first leg at PSV, knocked in a centering pass from Robbie Fowler in the 67th after goalkeeper Gomes had made a save. The goal came only three minutes after PSV defender Dirk Marcellis was red-carded for fouling Boudewijn Zenden.

Crouch just missed adding another with a header in the 81st.

"It was a strange game," Crouch said. "All the lads were up for it and if it had stayed at 0-0 you would have seen more urgency."

Jefferson Farfan had chances to score for PSV early in both halves, but he couldn't get the ball past Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina. Zenden nearly gave Liverpool an earlier lead from a free kick in the 43rd but shot wide.

"It was a difficult game," Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said. "They had plenty of possession. They were controlling the game."

PSV have not won in seven matches, or since defender Alex injured his hamstring on March 11 against Excelsior Rotterdam.

"We defended quite well. We defended quite compactly," PSV coach Ronald Koeman said. "The way we played we deserved a better result."

On Tuesday, Man United routed AS Roma 7-1 to advance 8-3 on aggregate. Chelsea rallied from a goal down to edge Valencia 2-1 and advance 3-2 on aggregate.

Three teams from the same country have reached the semi-finals of Europe's top club competition twice before.

In 2000, Spanish teams Real Madrid, Valencia and FC Barcelona reached the last four, and Madrid beat Valencia in the final. Three Italian teams matched that in 2003, with Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus all reaching the semi-finals. Milan then beat Juventus on penalties in the final.

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