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Kluivert strikes as Ajax force changing of the guard

AFC Ajax 1-0 AC Milan
Substitute Patrick Kluivert, just 18, struck six minutes from time as youth triumphed over experience on a famous night in Vienna.

It was only fitting that in a city as cultured as Vienna two such fine vintages were uncorked to serve up an occasion to rival anything seen at its illustrious theatres and opera houses.

AC Milan were ultimately undone by Patrick Kluivert, a player they would one day call their own, was apt on a night when AFC Ajax's squad contained six players whose CVs would eventually list the Rossoneri among their one-time employers.

Milan may have won the previous year's final, 4-0 against FC Barcelona no less, but Louis van Gaal's Ajax were a team who meant business, whose youthful potential more than made up for any lack of European pedigree. Pitted against Fabio Capello's feted giants in the group stage, the Dutch champions laid down an almighty marker with a pair of 2-0 victories.

Would the showpiece be third time lucky for Milan or a glorious hat-trick for Ajax? Frank de Boer had the first chance to get the ball rolling in his team's favour, but headed Finidi George's corner over and ominously the Rossoneri began to impose themselves on opponents prone to lapses.

Twice they were reprieved after being dispossessed in midfield; Christian Panucci's deflected shot ballooned onto the roof of the net, while Marco Simone's first-time volley was superbly thwarted by Edwin van der Sar.

Van Gaal, growing ever more animated, suffered more frustration soon after the interval when Zvonomir Boban – so canny at drifting into space unnoticed – picked out Daniele Massaro unmarked. Deft control, a tight spin and early shot surprised Van der Sar but ruffled only the outside of his net.

Nwankwo Kanu came off the bench and flashed an effort centimetres wide, but it was a fellow substitute who had the final say. The most patient of approaches considering only six minutes remained, with Marc Overmars, Edgar Davids and Frank Rijkaard involved, finally unlocked a typically miserly Italian defence. Kluivert, power, pace and poise personified, did the rest despite immense pressure.

Danny Blind spurned a glorious late chance to make it two, but Kluivert's intervention was enough: Vienna had witnessed a changing of the guard.