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AC MILAN 2, LIVERPOOL 1

AC Milan takes Euro Cup

ATHENS -- AC Milan made sure there was no Liverpool comeback this time.

The Italian club won the Champions League final yesterday, defeating Liverpool, 2-1, behind two goals by Filippo Inzaghi for its seventh European Cup title.

The game was a rematch of the 2005 final, when Milan blew a 3-0 halftime lead and lost on penalty kicks after a 3-3 tie.

"The defeat two years ago will stay me for a lifetime," Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso said. "But this is a different story. It's our turn to celebrate now."

Milan moved within two of Real Madrid's record of nine European Cup triumphs. Liverpool has won five times.

Milan won a showdown between teams struggling in their leagues -- Milan is fourth in Serie A and Liverpool is third in the Premier League.

Milan went ahead when Andrea Pirlo's 45th-minute free kick went through the wall and deflected off the side of Inzaghi and past goalkeeper Pepe Reina. Inzaghi made it 2-0 in the 82d, taking a pass from Kaka in the center, spurting ahead, and rolling the ball from an angle past the outstretched Reina.

Dirk Kuyt scored for Liverpool with a minute to go.

"It's the complete opposite," said Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, whose goal began the comeback in Istanbul two years ago. "You've got to take it on the chin, but at the moment it's heartbreaking."

AC Milan nearly was kicked out of this year's competition by European soccer's governing body but was allowed to remain and started in the third round of qualifying.

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