Ancelotti hails Athens win

It was not the thrilling final the soccer world had hoped for, but AC Milan’s coach Carlo Ancelotti hailed his side’s Champions League win in Athens on Wednesday night as the team’s greatest achievement. Ancelotti admitted that his team had been on the back foot for most of the game but the 47-year-old said that after starting the season with a points deduction in the Italian championship and being threatened with expulsion from the Champions League, few had expected Milan to lift the European Cup. «It is the greatest victory we have had; few people believed it was possible,» he said after the game. «We have done something incredible.» Ancelotti admitted that his side had to work very hard at Athens’s Olympic Stadium to achieve Milan’s seventh European Cup win. «We expected a difficult game but not like this,» Ancelotti told journalists. «We didn’t have enough space to play our game.» Milan had to hang on, as Liverpool dominated the first half but the Italians got the break just before halftime with an Andrea Pirlo free kick that deflected off Filippo Inzaghi. They also survived pressure in the second half before putting the game beyond Liverpool in the 83rd minute when Inzaghi broke the offside trap to score again. «The other face of Milan has helped us to win the Champions League,» said Ancelotti. «We are a tough team.» AC Milan also won the European Cup in Athens 13 years ago and Ancelotti said that result had boosted his team’s morale. «The memory of 1994 helped us along,» said Ancelotti in reference to the 4-0 thrashing of Barcelona. Meanwhile, Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said he would strengthen his side in the wake of his team’s 2-1 defeat to Milan. Benitez said that Liverpool lacked quality in certain areas and would need to spend big over the summer. «We need to think about how to improve our team,» he said. «We need to take two steps at a time.» Benitez said Liverpool were unlucky to lose after controlling play in the first half and pressuring Milan in the second period. «We deserved a little bit more,» said Benitez. «We were controlling the game in the first half and conceded a bad goal.» The Liverpool manager also defended his decision not to make substitutions earlier in the game. «We needed to attack but with balance,» said Benitez. «If you lose the balance, they [Milan] will kill you.»