By Tim Dykes
Amid the stampede for silverware across Europe in 2003, AC Milan denied Juventus FC a spectacular double by holding their nerve to win the UEFA Champions League final on penalties in May. Milan's sixth triumph in the continent's leading club competition eased the pain of trailing the Bianconeri by eleven points in Serie A.
Juve had been outright leaders in Italy from the first weekend in March, when Pavel Nedved and Mauro Camoranesi were among the scorers in a crucial 3-0 win against title rivals FC Internazionale at the Stadio Delle Alpi.
The race for the Spanish Primera División was a far tighter affair, with Real Madrid CF only usurping surprise leaders Real Sociedad de Fútbol on the penultimate day of the season. Manchester United FC produced a similar turnaround in England, having trailed Arsenal FC by nine points at one stage of the Premiership season. The 2-2 draw between the title rivals at Highbury in April gave United the psychological springboard they needed to reclaim the title - ultimately with a five-point margin.
There were also exciting finishes in the Netherlands, where AFC Ajax came within a whisker of clawing back a ten-point deficit in their bid to snatch the Eredivisie from PSV Eindhoven's grasp, and in France, where both AS Monaco FC and Olympique de Marseille conspired to lose two of their last four games to hand Olympique Lyonnais the Ligue 1 crown by a single point.
FC Bayern München cruised to the Bundesliga title and German Cup but runaway Portuguese SuperLiga champions FC Porto went one better. As well as a domestic double, Porto capped their season by lifting the UEFA Cup following a 3-2 victory against Celtic FC, who surrendered the Scottish Premier League title to Glasgow rivals Rangers FC on the final day of the season.
In the tightest title race across Europe, the famous rivals went into the final round of matches level on 94 points each and with an identical plus-68 goal difference. Celtic duly won 4-0 at Kilmarnock FC but the result was bettered by Rangers' 6-1 success against Dunfermline FC and, to add insult to Celtic's injury, Rangers also clinched the Scottish Cup the following weekend.
In addition to Rangers, Bayern and Porto, ten other teams wrapped up domestic doubles: FK Austria Wien, Andorra's FC Santa Coloma, Finnish side HJK Helsinki, Georgia's FC Dinamo Tbilisi, CS Grevenmacher in Luxembourg, Norway's Rosenborg BK, Polish side Wisla Kraków, Sammarinese outfit SP Domagnano, FC Dynamo Kyiv in Ukraine and Welsh club Barry Town AFC.
Later in the summer there were UEFA Intertoto Cup triumphs for FC Schalke 04, Villarreal CF and AC Perugia, securing each of them a place in the current UEFA Cup campaign - and Andriy Shevchenko, who scored the winning spot-kick for Milan against Juventus at Old Trafford, added the only goal of the UEFA Super Cup final to his collection as the European champions outshone Porto in Monaco.
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