By Greg Demetriou in Monaco
Andriy Shevchenko was the hero again for AC Milan as his headed goal in Monaco tonight gave the UEFA Champions League holders their fourth UEFA Super Cup success.
Shevchenko, who converted the decisive penalty in the 3-2 shoot-out victory against Juventus FC in May to gave Milan their sixth European Champion Clubs' Cup, broke the deadlock as early as the tenth minute. Yet it was the Carlsberg Man of the Match's intelligent forward play, until his substitution to widespread acclaim in the 75th minute, that lit up a rousing contest.
Milan fielded a hugely experienced side including captain Paolo Maldini who recovered earlier than expected from an ankle injury picked up in training a fortnight ago. Dario Šimic was preferred at right-back to summer arrival Cafu although another new face Giuseppe Pancaro lined up on the other flank. Porto's South Africa striker Benni McCarthy, newly signed from RC Celta de Vigo, spearheaded a three-pronged attack with Derlei and Dmitri Alenitchev in behind.
The game started in lively fashion with the first effort of the night coming after just three minutes from Rui Costa, but he could only pull his shot wide. Shevchenko showed his form early by twice nipping in behind the Porto defence before Filippo Inzaghi fired wide with a volley.
Shevchenko was a constant menace, frequently switching with Inzaghi and dropping deep to help the midfield. So it was no surprise when the No7 broke the deadlock, outjumping Paulo Ferreira to power in a header from Rui Costa's cross.
After some neat touches from the Portuguese side, Milan began to buzz again and a lofted pass from Pirlo set Shevchenko free. He unselfishly fed Seedorf, who skewed his shot wide. Then, in the 33rd minute, it could have been two. Shevchenko ran at the heart of the defence before slipping in Rui Costa. He shifted the ball to Inzaghi, but he could only find the side-netting.
Porto go close
Yet Porto were not out of it and eight minutes before the interval, Derlei received the ball and cut inside before slipping the ball to Maniche. His powerful shot just eluded Dida's outstretched hand but, to his dismay, also cleared the Milan crossbar.
The second half began at a furious pace with Shevchenko nearly finding room to shoot before the play switched up the other end. The swift counterattack finished with Maniche’s lob clippng the top of the crossbar with Dida stranded. Then, barely a minute later, Inzaghi headed into Vítor Baía's arms from a Pirlo free-kick.
Porto were working hard and Maniche again tried his luck from distance, this time seeing his shot whistle just wide. Yet Shevchenko soon created a chance for Inzaghi in front of goal. Porto were still going close though and Ricardo Costa and substitute Edgaras Jankauskas both wasted good opportunities.
Rui Costa could then have made the game safe but blazed over from close range. Maniche tried from distance again but it was a case of third time unlucky. Soon afterwards, Inzaghi was put through but Baía did well to save with his feet.
It was tense stuff and Derlei thought he had scored when he fired in a shot on the turn that just missed before Jankauskas sent a superb drive just wide. The Portuguese champions, going for their fifth trophy of 2003, were refusing to give up. However, once substitute José Bosingwa had seen his late effort saved, Milan and their majestic defenders stood firm.
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