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Lens celebrate spectacular win

Published: Tuesday 29 October 2002, 20.00CET
RC Lens are celebrating one of the greatest nights in their history after beating AC Milan.
Published: Tuesday 29 October 2002, 20.00CET

Lens celebrate spectacular win

RC Lens are celebrating one of the greatest nights in their history after beating AC Milan.

Joy was unconfined for the home fans as RC Lens kept their hopes of a place in the second group stage of the UEFA Champions League alive with a 2-1 win against AC Milan.

Unhappy record
A week after breaking their unhappy record of never having scored more than one goal in a Champions League game with a 3-1 win against RC Deportivo La Coruña at the Stade Félix-Bollaert, Joël Muller's side achieved an even more famous win against runaway Group G leaders Milan.

'A great achievement'
"It is a great achievement for a little town like Lens against a big team like Milan," said Lens club president Gervais Martel. "But I always knew that we had enough quality in the team to beat Milan."

Passionate football
Lens's quality could have been called into question as Carlo Ancelotti's Milan dominated possession throughout. But there was no doubting the spirit of Muller's side as they recovered from going behind to an Andriy Shevchenko goal to score through Daniel Moreira and John Utaka and take the points.

Bayern decider
Lens now face a final Group G game against FC Bayern München on Matchday Six knowing that, if they can win at the Olympiastadion, they are in with a chance of overhauling Deportivo to take a place in the second group stage.

'Everything is possible'
"It was one of Lens's greatest-ever victories and I am very proud of the way that we performed," said Muller. "We scored five goals in the games against Deportivo and Milan and that is very important for us. We are now sure of a place in the UEFA Cup and we will go to Bayern without fear and everything is possible."

Defensive error
Certainly, that spirit of adventure governed much of Lens' performance tonight. They defended doggedly against a constant Milan onslaught, frustrated Milan and exploited a rare error to score their winner.

Decisive goal
Four minutes into the second half, Andrea Pirlo passed the ball to Thomas Helveg inside his own area, and Utaka - who ran tirelessly all night - dispossessed the defender before slipping the ball under Christian Abbiati for what proved to be the decisive goal.

'Very disappointed'
Milan defender Paolo Maldini was less than impressed by the manner of his side's defeat. "I am very disappointed about the result," said the veteran defender. "Milan were the best side on the pitch but we made a lot of defensive mistakes."

Deportivo challenge
While Milan have already confirmed their place in the second stage, Lens need them to take points off Deportivo in their final game in Group G at the San Siro to have any hope of qualifying for the second group stage. Coach Carlo Ancelotti hinted that Milan would be doing their best to beat Deportivo.

'Our best team'
"We will play our best team against Deportivo next week," he promised after fielding a side shorn of Filippo Inzaghi, Alessandro Nesta and Rui Costa in Lens. "This was the best team that we could field tonight."

Last updated: 30/10/02 1.14CET

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