Milan understudies hog the limelight in Eindhoven

PSV Stadion, Eindhoven – 09/12/1992 – Group stage
PSV
PSV
Romário 66
1 - 2
Milan
  • Rijkaard 19
  • Simone 62
Milan
Edge of the seat

"The team was perfect tonight, setting very high standards." Fabio Capello

1992/93

• French striker Frank Sauzée finished the inaugural UEFA Champions League as top scorer with five goals, including a hat-trick in Olympique de Marseille's 6-0 group stage win against PFC CSKA Moskva.

• Marseille became the first French European Cup winners when they defeated AC Milan 1-0 at Munich's Olympiastadion, defender Basile Boli heading in the only goal from a corner just before half-time.

• Rangers FC went through the campaign unbeaten but Marseille pipped them to the place in the final after the Scottish champions were held to a goalless draw by CSKA Moskva in their final group game.

In the midst of a 58-game unbeaten run in Serie A and fresh from Marco van Basten's four-goal demolition of IFK Göteborg in the group-stage opener, star-studded AC Milan were always expected to beat PSV Eindhoven. Yet for once it was not Van Basten, Jean-Pierre Papin, Daniele Massaro or Aldo Serena who spearheaded their triumph but an unheralded pair.

Fabio Capello's side began brightly in Eindhoven and were soon ahead with a goal made in the Netherlands. Van Basten outstripped full-back Raymond Beerens on the left and lofted an awkward bouncing ball towards the far post where another of the Rossoneri's Dutch trio, Frank Rijkaard, headed in from an acute angle.

Rijkaard was outstanding as the Rossoneri took a firm grip on proceedings but time and again, through a combination of last-ditch tackles and wasteful finishing, a second eluded them. With the prolific Romário, scorer of both PSV's goals in their 2-2 draw at FC Porto a fortnight earlier, lurking at the other end, the lead remained precarious.

For once luck did not seem to be on Milan's side, the departure of Ruud Gullit on the hour to injury apparently confirming that. On came Stefano Eranio, though, and within two minutes he had fashioned the second. Finding space on the right, he delivered a cross to the near post that the 23-year-old Marco Simone stabbed between Hans van Breukelen's legs.

The two-goal cushion was short-lived as Romário, with his back to goal and Paolo Maldini at close quarters, flicked the ball up, controlled it on his knee and pirouetted to lash high into the net. Yet rather than spark the comeback it was Milan and Simone who dominated the closing stages – only Van Breukelen and then a post denied him a second.

"The team was perfect tonight," said Capello. "We just missed a few opportunities to kill the game off but we are setting very high standards. We are in the driving seat to reach the final now. Simone was exceptional."

The man himself was keeping his feet firmly on the ground. "I'm ready to go back on the substitute bench if I have to," he said. "This squad has 25 great champions and in attack there are players who have won the Ballon d'Or yet the winning mentality is amazing. Papin was the first to congratulate me after my goal even if he was not playing."

Star players

  • Romário

    One of the all-time greats, Romário won honours in four continents. Top scorer as Brazil won the 1994 FIFA World Cup (he ended with 55 goals in 70 international appearances), the stocky striker was lethal in the penalty area. Romário won titles with PSV Eindhoven and FC Barcelona, scoring at almost a goal a game throughout. He became a coach and politician but will be best remembered as a prodigious goalscorer.

  • Simone

    Simone made his Serie A debut for Calcio Como four days after his 18th birthday and by the time he turned 21 he was starring at AC Milan. Despite fierce opposition for attacking berths at San Siro, he played almost 250 games for the club and also enjoyed success at AS Monaco FC and Paris Saint-Germain FC. Twice a European Cup winner, since retiring he has served as an administrator, agent and coach.

  • Rijkaard

    A stylish defender in the Netherlands' 1988 UEFA European Championship-winning side, Rijkaard was also adept in midfield. A member of AC Milan's celebrated Dutch triumvirate, he won the European Cup in each of his first two seasons, scoring the winning goal in the 1990 final. Five years later, he hoisted the trophy as AFC Ajax captain, and has since enjoyed coaching success with FC Barcelona and the Dutch national team.

What happened next?

• AC Milan won all six group games to reach the final where they surprisingly lost 1-0 to Olympique de Marseille, Basile Boli scoring the only goal just before half-time at Munich's Olympiastadion.

• Milan bounced back to lift the UEFA Champions League the following season with another 4-0 win, Daniele Massaro scoring twice against FC Barcelona at Athens' OACA Spiros Louis Stadium.

• The 1993 final proved Marco van Basten's last match at a time when he was FIFA World Player of the Year and held the Ballon d'Or for a third time. He scored 20 goals in 22 games that season.

• Eight days after the PSV game Marco Simone made his international debut, the first of four caps, and despite competition from the likes of Roberto Baggio, he scored 74 goals in 245 games for Milan.

• Despite 25 goals in 21 league appearances from Romário, PSV Eindhoven finished second to Feyenoord in the Eredivisie and the striker moved to FC Barcelona at the end of the season.

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