2007 Super Cup: Milan overcome sombre Sevilla
Milan beat Sevilla in a second-half comeback to claim fifth UEFA Super Cup title.
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AC Milan 3-1 Sevilla
(Inzaghi 54, Jankulovski 61, Kaká 86; Renato 13)
The UEFA Super Cup in Monaco on 31 August raised the curtain on the 2007/08 European season, but the death of Sevilla's Antonio Puerta just three days before the big game cast a horrible shadow over what was supposed to be a celebration.
UEFA Cup holders Sevilla had been challenging to become only the second club to win two successive Super Cups as they prepared to take on AC Milan, but the death of midfielder Puerta of a heart attack during a league game made such sporting concerns seem irrelevant.
In the event, Milan won the match 3-1 with Andrea Pirlo performing brilliantly in midfield, but the occasion was not lost on him. "It was difficult to face up to the situation but we proved that we also played for [Puerta] and did it in the best possible spirit," he said.
While Sevilla girded themselves up to compete, UEFA Champions League winners Milan were to receive good news in the days leading up to the finals, with Kaká being named as the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year and best forward of 2007 at the UEFA Club Football Awards in Monaco.
Team-mates Paolo Maldini and Clarence Seedorf were given the awards for the season's best defender and midfielder respectively, while Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech broke the Milan monopoly as he was named best custodian.
In the Super Cup game, Renato put Sevilla ahead after 13 minutes and they honoured their fallen colleague with a fine first-half performance.
However, Milan emerged transformed after the interval. Filippo Inzaghi headed them level from a Gennaro Gattuso cross after 54 minutes before Marek Jankulovski volleyed home from an astute Pirlo ball to make it 2-1 seven minutes later.
Andrés Palop denied Kaká from the penalty spot after 87 minutes, but the Brazilian was able to finish from the rebound. The Sevilla fans showed that their minds were elsewhere, with chants of 'We love you Puerta' echoing down from the stands.
"The second half was too much for us," said Sevilla coach Juande Ramos. "We wanted to win to dedicate the game to Antonio but at least we played well."
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said: "What has happened in the last few days with the death of Puerta created a unique atmosphere for this game. Obviously Sevilla were more affected by that than us but they played well particularly in the first half when we were a bit weary. But we recovered and did much better in the second half. We prepared really well, the team were compact and we kept calm when we were behind."