Opponents united in respect
Saturday, 1 September 2007
AC Milan may have taken the UEFA Super Cup honours with victory against Sevilla FC in Monaco but the sides were united in mutual praise after an emotional night.
AC Milan may have taken the UEFA Super Cup honours with a 3-1 victory against Sevilla FC yet players from both sides were united in mutual praise after an emotional night in Monaco.
Goals after half-time from Filippo Inzaghi and Marek Jankulovski gave the Rossoneri the advantage at the Stade Louis II, cancelling out Renato's early strike. It paved the way for a Milan win that was rounded off by Kaká late on though it could not diminish Sevilla defender Julien Escudé's pride in his team's performance in the aftermath of Antonio Puerta's untimely passing. "We have done our best to honour the death of Antonio," he said. "The match did not take place in ideal conditions but we can be proud of our performance. In the first half we put them under pressure but we were quite tired at half-time and they then scored two quick goals."
His views were echoed by Kaká, whose muted celebrations of his 87th-minute strike saw him untuck his shirt and point to the name Puerta that all 22 players had written on their shirts in another mark of respect. "It was a difficult match to prepare for and a unique atmosphere," said the Milan playmaker. "I think Milan had the right approach and showed the appropriate respect for our opponents. Before kick-off we asked the Sevilla players how they wanted to play the match and it became clear in the first half as we struggled a lot with them closing us down. After we equalised, though, spaces opened up."
Clarence Seedorf was withdrawn soon after Kaká's strike and made a similar gesture to his team-mate, taking off his shirt and holding Puerta's name aloft. "It was the least I could do," said the veteran. "It was something felt very deeply inside, not only by myself, but by the entire Milan squad. It was special to experience the sensitive way in which the situation was dealt, with supporters from both clubs chanting together. I hope we can learn from that for the future; that football can be played in such a way - like a celebration."