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Milan fired by points deduction not revenge on Liverpool

sports Updated: May 23, 2007 14:43 IST
Trevor Huggins
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Coach Carlo Ancelotti believes that a points deduction which nearly ruled AC Milan out of the Champions League has made them all the more determined to beat Liverpool in Wednesday's final.

Milan were punished last year for their part in a Serie A match-rigging scandal and UEFA came close to refusing them permission to play in the qualifiers.

The six-times European champions were eventually given reluctant clearance to play by the ruling body and can now avenge their 2005 final defeat by Liverpool on penalties.

Ancelotti told a news conference on Tuesday: "We've deserved to reach this final, perhaps more than any other side because unlike them we've had points taken off in the championship.

"The pre-season preparation wasn't good -- everything was done in a big rush, and if we are fortunate enough to win this competition it will be more than deserved."

He added: "Two years ago, it was seen as almost expected we'd get to the final, given the side we had.

"What we've done this time has been seen by a lot of people, including us, as something extraordinary -- to have got here after all the difficulties we've had to face.

"From a psychological point of view we are certainly very determined. We've done great things up to now -- and we want to finish this season in real style."

Ancelloti, six years at the club, said: "This has been my most difficult year since I've been with Milan, mainly because I've had to face things that I've never had to deal with before, with injuries and everything we've been through.

"But one thing that's been clear was the real harmony between the team and the club."

Ancelotti dismissed any idea of Wednesday being a chance to settle a score after their astonishing 2005 defeat in Istanbul, having led 3-0 at halftime.

"It's got nothing to do with it," said the Milan coach, who also won the European Cup with Milan twice as a player.

"That match has been played and was won by Liverpool. This is a new adventure and let's hope it finishes better."

Milan captain Paolo Maldini will be playing in a record-equalling eighth European Cup final if he appears as expected on Wednesday.

Asked what his emotions were, the 38-year-old defender said: "Pride is the main thing...but also impatience.

"I want to get out there once again and experience the shiver of excitement you only get in games like this. To be doing this again at this level is something fantastic."