Lethal Inzaghi announces himself on the big stage

NSK Olimpiyskyi, Kyiv – 18/03/1998 – Quarter-finals
Dynamo Kyiv
Dynamo Kyiv
Rebrov 54
1 - 4
Juventus
  • Inzaghi 29, 65, 73
  • Del Piero 88
Juventus
Touch of genius

"I hardly forget any of my goals, especially the ones on special nights like this. It was just beautiful." Filippo Inzaghi

1997/98

• Slovakia's first UEFA Champions League representatives, 1. FC Kosice, became the first side to fail to pick up a single point during their group stage campaign, scoring two goals in six outings.

• Four matches drew crowds of 100,000: FC Dynamo Kyiv's home games against Newcastle United FC, Barcelona and Juventus, and the first leg of the Real Madrid CF-Borussia Dortmund semi-final.

• At 17 years and 195 days, Peter Ofori-Quaye became the UEFA Champions League's youngest scorer when he struck Olympiacos FC's consolation in a 5-1 group-stage loss away to Rosenborg BK.

The 24-year-old Filippo Inzaghi arrived in the Ukrainian capital with question marks persisting over whether he could hack it with the big boys; his performance against FC Dynamo Kyiv vanquished those doubts for good.

Inzaghi was snapped up by Juventus after amassing 24 league goals for Atalanta BC in 1996/97, but there was an impression that his scoring feats were achieved with the pressure off. How would he perform with sights set higher, when scoring and winning were expected, not merely hoped for? Here he responded emphatically, leaving with ambitions realised, a UEFA Champions League semi-final in the offing and the match ball.

"You don't know Inzaghi that well yet," said Juve coach Marcello Lippi after the 4-1 victory. "Sometimes you don't notice him, he may look like he is not involved in the game, but all of a sudden he scores; he is lethal in front of the goal." Dynamo had received warning with the wiry striker's predatory goal in the 1-1 first-leg draw a fortnight earlier in Turin, but failed to heed it.

Inzaghi put the visitors in front on 29 minutes after a magical pass by Zinédine Zidane, intentionally slicing a long ball over the defence and into the forward's path. Talk of the relative crisis three successive draws had brought seemed far removed, but returned with Serhiy Rebrov's equaliser soon after the restart.

This was Inzaghi's night, however, as he scored two quick headers from corners midway through the half to complete his hat-trick. He celebrated in the manner that would become so familiar, sprinting towards the corner flag with arms stretched angelically and his face contorted into an ethereal scream.

"If you don't score for a few games at Juve you are immediately under scrutiny," Inzaghi said after Alessandro Del Piero had made it 4-1 two minutes from time. "I want to enjoy this great evening for a few days now and I will always remember the hug from my team-mates after the final whistle." It would not be his last.

Star players

  • Rebrov

    The Ukrainian Premier League's all-time top scorer with 123 goals in 261 appearances, Rebrov was a prolific striker who gained a global stature far exceeding his 1.73m frame. He provided the perfect foil to Andriy Shevchenko at FC Dynamo Kyiv, claiming eight championships in as many seasons before departing for Tottenham Hotspur FC. He won further league titles at Fenerbahçe SK, FC Rubin Kazan (two) and, utilised in a deeper role, another in a second spell at Dynamo.

  • Del Piero

    'Il Fenomeno Vero' (the Real Phenomenon) made the Trequartista role his own during a career spanning two decades at Juventus. No other player has made as many appearances for the club nor scored as many goals; few anywhere can compete with his honours, including the 1996 UEFA Champions League, six Serie A titles and the 2006 FIFA World Cup. "I'm certain Del Piero never grows old," Diego Maradona noted.

  • Inzaghi

    For two decades the Italy striker, a classic goal poacher, was an unwelcome presence on the shoulder of the last defender. He won the 1998 Scudetto before Juventus sold him to AC Milan and he made his former employers pay as new club beat old in the 2003 UEFA Champions League final. Inzaghi won two more Serie A titles but always saved his best for the European stage, scoring twice in the 2007 showpiece against Liverpool FC.

What happened next?

• After beating AS Monaco FC in the last four, Juventus lost the final 1-0 to Real Madrid CF in Amsterdam, becoming the first side to suffer back-to-back European Cup showpiece defeats.

• Two months after his Kyiv heroics, Filippo Inzaghi struck another hat-trick as Juventus beat Bologna FC 3-2 in the penultimate game of the Serie A season to seal the Scudetto.

• Inzaghi went on to score a then record three UEFA Champions League hat-tricks and 46 goals in the competition in all, including both AC Milan's strikes in the 2007 final.

• Dynamo won the first of three successive league and cup doubles in 1997/98 and would make it nine Ukrainian titles in a row before FC Shakhtar Donetsk ended their monopoly.

• Andriy Shevchenko flew to Kyiv after Milan's 2003 UEFA Champions League success to leave his winners' medal on the grave of ex-Dynamo coach Valeri Lobanovskiy, who died 12 months earlier.

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