The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Double joy for AC Milan

Milan: European champions AC Milan won their second trophy in four days after lifting the Italian Cup here at the San Siro Saturday.

Milan, who defeated Juventus on penalties to win the Champions League on Wednesday, drew a gripping second leg 2-2 with Serie A rivals AS Roma to secure a 6-3 aggregate score.

Two spectacular free-kicks from Francesco Totti gave Roma a two-goal lead before Rivaldo and Filippo Inzaghi struck to level the scores. All the goals came in the second half.

Roma’s misery was compounded in the final 20 minutes when Totti and fellow striker Antonio Cassano were sent off.

Totti saw red for a second bookable offence, while Cassano was sent off for dissent.

Milan’s cup triumph was their fifth success and their first since 1977.

Milan midfielder Manuel Rui Costa said landing the double was the icing on the cake of a memorable season for Carlo Ancelotti’s men. “It’s a great party, a season worth framing,” said the Portuguese international. “We have worked hard to end the season this way and we deserve the applause.”

Roma coach Fabio Capello said his side didn’t get the rub of the green in a fractious match which saw five others booked.

“It was a great effort but a shame that we finished up with nine men,” said Capello.

A carnival atmosphere greeted Milan as thousands of supporters turned up to hail their European heroes, but it was Roma who dominated the first-half. Christian Abbiati, replacing Dida in the Milan goal, produced a superb flying save to deny Totti in the ninth minute as the Roma captain’s powerful right-foot shot headed for the top corner.

Sixty seconds later Roma found the back of the net only to have their effort controversially ruled out. Antonio Cassano’s quickly-taken free-kick put Totti clean through and the Italy international stabbed the ball past Abbiati with the outside of his right boot. However, referee Roberto Rosetti insited the ball was not still when the set-piece was taken and called play back. On this occassion Totti’s pile-driver was blocked by Milan’s defensive wall.

Milan had to wait until the 28th minute before threatening Roma’s goal with Clarence Seedorf blazing a close-range volley over the crossbar.

Roma regained the initiative in the final minutes of the first period with Abbiati brilliantly clawing away Totti’s half-volley after Martin Laursen had failed to clear Vincent Candela’s cross.

The visitors took a deserved lead on the night 11 minutes after the break. Cassano was hauled down just outside the penalty box and Totti’s sweetly-struck free-kick crept inside the far post off Abbiati’s fingertips.

Totti produced a close replica in the 64th minute, leaving Abbiati helpless from 25 yards to double Roma’s advantage.

Roma joy lasted less than a minute as Milan settled their nerves through Rivaldo.

Sergino cut in from the left after flicking the ball through Jonathan Zebina’s legs and crossed for his fellow Brazilian to head firmly into the roof of the net.

Roma’s hopes were extinguished when Totti and Cassano departed and Milan added insult to injury by levelling the scores in stoppage time.

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