Liverpool FC players paid tribute to the club's huge travelling support after failing to deliver them another UEFA Champions League crown in Athens last night. "They're the best supporters in the world," said Dirk Kuyt, whose goal came too late to force extra time after Filippo Inzaghi's double for AC Milan.
Kuyt, not one of the five starters in Rafael Benítez's first XI to have featured in the 2005 comeback victory against the Rossoneri in Istanbul, continued: "It's so disappointing. We honestly felt we were the better team and were in control before Inzaghi scored - we had even kept Kaká quiet." That opener arrived in added time at the end of a first half in which Liverpool looked the more likely scorers. It gave Milan the freedom to sit back, play on the counterattack and exploit the increased space after the break. "The coach told us to keep doing the same things in the second half but things just didn't come off for us," Kuyt said.
"We fought hard to get the goal but Milan hit us on the break with the second and suddenly I think we all felt the pace of the game. It was nice for me to score in a Champions League final but, in the end, I would swap that goal for a win every time. I would also like to thank the fans for their support right to the final whistle, they are the best fans in the world." Midfielder Xabi Alonso echoed that sentiment. "The fans have been amazing throughout the campaign," he told uefa.com. "They've travelled in their thousands and sung their hearts out so they did their bit. Sadly we couldn't give them the win they deserved."
Winger Boudewijn Zenden was another to lament failing to turn Liverpool's early superiority into a goal, especially as Milan appeared uncharacteristically shaky until Inzaghi's breakthrough goal provided a platform for victory. "It's all very flat now after all the build-up," said Zenden. "We started so brightly and felt we were on top before the deflected goal. When they scored the second it really hurt, it was always going to be hard to come back from that. The late goal gave us hope but we just couldn't create the chance to take it into extra time. The fans were amazing, though, and it makes you so proud to play in front of them."
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