Milan find perfect pitch in dream final

OAKA Spiros Louis, Athens – 18/05/1994 – Final
Milan
Milan
Massaro 22, 45 Savićević 47 Desailly 58
4 - 0
Barcelona
Barcelona
Touch of genius

"This was perfection." Fabio Capello

1993/94

• FC Barcelona forward Hristo Stoichkov finished top scorer in the UEFA Champions League with five goals in six outings (he missed two group fixtures), all of them coming in the first 35 minutes of games.

• SV Werder Bremen were 3-0 down with 25 minutes of their Matchday 2 meeting with RSC Anderlecht remaining but launched a memorable comeback, scoring five unanswered goals to win 5-3 in Germany.

• AC Milan ended top of Group B despite winning just two of their six games and scoring only six goals. They then hit seven without reply in the last four – where they defeated FC Porto 3-0 – and the final.

For the first time in living memory AC Milan approached a European Champion Clubs' Cup final as underdogs, their suspension-hit back line expected to buckle under the weight of FC Barcelona's attacking talent.

Yet Fabio Capello had not read the script, his decision to fight forward fire with fire catching everyone unawares. Two Daniele Massaro goals earned the initiative and when Dejan Savićević made it 3-0 with an exquisite lob soon after half-time, the game was up. Marcel Desailly set seal on a memorable triumph.

"I will take three things back home with me," Massaro said after the game. "The two goals and Hristo Stoichkov's jersey; he's an idol for me." Respect not deference was the order of the day in Athens as, with Demetrio Albertini pulling the strings in midfield, the Rossoneri piled forward from the off.

Christian Panucci had already had a goal disallowed when Massaro broke the deadlock midway through the first period, prodding in at the far post after Savićević had made light work of Josep Guardiola on the right flank.

Massaro doubled the advantage on the cusp of half-time and Johan Cruyff's feted Barcelona side knew it was not their day when Sergi Barjuán dallied too long on a bouncing ball and Savićević pounced, looked up and lobbed Andoni Zubizarreta from distance.

Il Genio (The Genius) might have had another but hit the upright, though Desailly made no mistake just before the hour, powering into the box and placing into the top corner.

So it was Mauro Tassotti – captain for the day with Franco Baresi suspended alongside Alessandro Costacurta – who lifted the trophy. Having been denied by Olympique de Marseille 12 months earlier, Milan won the Scudetto and European Cup in the same season for the first time. "This," announced Capello, "is perfection."

Star players

  • Maldini

    A peerless defender for a quarter of a century, Maldini rewrote the record books after making his debut for AC Milan at the age of 16. Some 901 games later when he finally called it a day, his enormous medal haul included five European Champion Clubs' Cups (four more than father Cesare) and seven Scudettos. He also won the small matter of 126 caps for Italy.

  • Stoichkov

    'The Dagger' always commanded centre stage, his sublime skills and sharpness in front of goal eclipsing a temperamental side. Stoichkov won the 1992 European Champion Clubs' Cup, the 1997 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and five Liga titles at FC Barcelona but his finest hour came in 1994 when he scored six times as Bulgaria reached the FIFA World Cup semi-finals. He won the Ballon d'Or for his troubles.

  • Savićević

    Arguably the finest player Montenegro has produced, Savićević earned global attention in 1991 when he helped inspire FK Crvena Zvezda to European Champion Clubs' Cup glory. He won three domestic titles in Belgrade and matched the feat after joining AC Milan in 1992, his attacking guile never more evident than in the 1994 UEFA Champions League final.

What happened next?

• Twelve months later AC Milan reached the UEFA Champions League final for a third successive year, but were found wanting by Louis van Gaal's youthful AFC Ajax team in Vienna as they lost 1-0.

• Fabio Capello guided the Rossoneri to the 1995/96 Scudetto before departing for a season at Real Madrid CF, once again proving the scourge of FC Barcelona by pipping them to the title.

• Romário gained revenge as Brazil won the 1994 FIFA World Cup after a shoot-out against an Italy side including Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Demetrio Albertini, Roberto Donadoni and Daniele Massaro.

• Already Barcelona's most successful coach after capturing 11 trophies in his first six seasons, Johan Cruyff never won another major honour and retired after departing Camp Nou in summer 1996.

• Maldini was still in the side the next time Milan won the UEFA Champions League, beating Juventus on spot kicks in 2003. He claimed a fifth European Cup winners' medal four years later aged 39.

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