AFC Ajax 1-1 Juventus (aet, Juventus win 4-2 on penalties)
(Litmanen 40; Ravanelli 12)
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
"We have waited a long time. We never really considered 1985 as a victory because of Heysel." Juventus official Roberto Bettega was in no doubt as to the significance of the club's UEFA Champions League success of 1995/96. Their win against AFC Ajax in Rome was a "real" European Champion Clubs' Cup triumph, the one against Liverpool FC eleven years earlier an empty one.
The Bianconeri had begun the journey towards closure by dominating BV Borussia Dortmund, FC Steaua Bucuresti and Rangers FC in the first phase. They lost to Dortmund, but only after securing top spot in Group C. They could not be so blasé about their next defeat - 1-0 at Real Madrid CF in the quarter-finals. Yet Marcello Lippi's team overturned that deficit in Turin, prevailing 2-1 on aggregate.
There was another setback in the semi-finals, although FC Nantes Atlantique's 3-2 victory at the Beaujoire merely improved the complexion of the French side's eventual 4-3 aggregate reverse. So Juventus were through to meet the holders. Ajax had made fairly effortless progress to the final, including five wins and a draw from Group D matches against Madrid, Ferencvárosi TC and Grasshopper-Club.
They then outclassed Dortmund before running into Panathinaikos FC in the last four. If the Dutch side were unaware of the Greek team's credentials before the first leg in Amsterdam, they knew all about them afterwards, Pana ending Ajax's 18-game unbeaten run in Europe with a Krzysztof Warzycha goal. Still, the champions found the perfect response, winning 3-0 in Athens. However, Ajax were back on the losing side at the Olimpico, missing out on penalties after Jari Litmanen had equalised Fabrizio Ravanelli's early strike for Juventus.
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