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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Late Goal Wins Cup for Ajax




VIENNA -- Teenage substitute Patrick Kluivert scored with only five minutes remaining to crown Ajax Amsterdam as European champion for the first time in 22 years with a 1-0 win over European Cup-holders AC Milan.


The only goal of a largely disappointing European Cup final came with extra time looking inevitable as the youthful Ajax team could find no way past Milan's experienced defense.


But Kluivert, who came on for Finnish striker Jari Litmanen in the 69th minute, stabbed the ball past Milan goalkeeper Sebastiano Rossi after an intricate Ajax attack seemed to have broken down.


Veteran Frank Rijkaard, who scored the winning goal for Milan when it beat Benfica in Vienna five years ago, seemed to have lost the finishing chance against his former club when the ball fell to Kluivert, who made no mistake from eight meters.


The victory guarantees Ajax a place in next season's Champions' League and means that Milan, which has lost its Italian championship crown to Juventus, must play in the UEFA Cup next season.


Milan suffered a blow before the game started when its influential Montenegrin striker Dejan Savicevic, who scored twice in the 4-0 win over Barcelona in last year's final, was declared unfit because of a thigh injury.


Milan had control for much of the first half, Christian Panucci's overlapping raids down the right wing causing Ajax problems.


Milan's best chance in the opening half came on the stroke of halftime when Marco Simone lashed in a volley from 12 meters, only to see it blocked by goalkeeper Edwin van der Saar.


Seven minutes into the second half, Ajax coach Louis van Gaal began to turn the tide his side's way when he brought on Nigerian Nwankwo Kanu for the disappointing Clarence Seedorf.


Immediately, Ajax started to look more dangerous and Kanu himself was unlucky not to score after 77 minutes with a shot that dipped past the far post with Rossi beaten.


Within a minute Milan came close through Simone, who forced Van der Saar into a good save.


With Kluivert also making an impact up front, Milan was increasingly becoming penned in their own half and looking to score on the break.


Ajax captain Danny Blind, booked in the first half for dissent, had a golden opportunity to make it 2-0 with almost the final kick of the game.


He got on the end of a cross from Kanu but Rossi saved the firm shot with his legs and the ball spiralled over the bar.


The substitutions swung the match Ajax's way and Kluivert's goal clinched its fourth European Cup win, putting it equal with Liverpool and behind only Milan (five Cups) and Real Madrid (six) in the all-time list of winners.


"After the changes we played as Ajax have done all season," said the satisfied coach, who led the Dutch side to UEFA Cup success in 1992.


Milan coach Fabio Capello was naturally unhappy about Milan's second defeat in the last three finals.


"We had the better chances. They didn't create much and then they punished us with their only shot. But that's the way the game is," he said.


"I was very disappointed to let in a goal so late and from a move when our defenders were all in position."


After the match, riot police in Amsterdam armed with batons and tear gas charged fans in the city center early Thursday after celebrations turned violent.


Police said 14 people were arrested, and six police officers and about 80 fans were slightly hurt by missiles.