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Thursday, May 27, 2004
The One With The Cup Final (part 3) 

Curtains for European clubs season were brought down last night with final match between FC Porto and AS Monaco battling for the prestigious Champions League Trophy at The Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Porto reaching the final after defeated Manchester United, Lyon and Deportivo La Carona in Knockout stages while Monaco eased pass Locomotiv Moscow before suprised two giant clubs Real Madrid and Chelsea successively.

Monaco started the game well with couple of chances but their inability to finish plus several misjudgements by linesmen prevent them to take an early lead. Best chance came when captain Ludovic Guily received a through-pass from Lucas Bernardi but keeper Victor Baia cleverly dived to make a perfect block. Minutes later, playmaker Guily also the hero who overwhelmed Real Madrid was limped off the pitch due to groin injury. Coach Deschamps brought in Croation Dado Pršo, 5-goals scorer against Depor in group stage, but clearly he was not any effective last night.

Porto, last year UEFA Cup winner started without profilic striker Benni McCarthy who thrashed Manchester United at Estádio do Dragão, got lucky when a slight mix-up in Monaco's penalty box allowed 19-year-old Brazillian striker Carlos Alberto to snatch a lead, fired his shot past keeper Flavio Roma's left hand. Half time ended at 1-0.

Desperate for an equalizer, Monaco had to sacrifice Eduardo Cisse who was replaced by Congolese striker Shabani Nonda 15 minutes after half time. They pushed forward leaving space at the back allowing Porto to set up a vital counter attack move. With an assist by substitute Dmitri Alenitchev, Deco broke clear on the left, before scored second goal for Porto. Two goals down was already a bit impossible for Monaco to come back, but three goals down means they needed a miracle. Just after 4 minutes Porto celebrated their second, Derlei broke free, and found Alenitchev courtesy of a cross that deflected off Squillaci, the Russian drove the third nail in Monaco's coffin. Monaco, a debt-ridden club nearly relegated to second division early this season ended their fairy tales unhappilly. Porto won the trophy with a convincing 3-0 scoreline.

Porto coach Jose Maurinho, adding another impressive title in his two seasons with the Portugese side, admitted the match was his last for Porto. He could be on his way to English Premiership, either Chelsea or Liverpool.

Next stop, Euro 2004.

-Extra time facts-

FC Porto became only the second side to win the UEFA Cup and the European Champion Clubs' Cup in successive seasons after Liverpool.

Carlos Alberto became the third youngest ever scorer in the European final.

p/s: Matrix-a-like cameras for replay were damn cool..

Champion of Europe

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