On May 18th 1994, Milan became European Champions for the fifth time in what was described by many as the best performance by a team ever in the Champions League final.
Mauro Tassotti led out the Rossoneri in front of 70,000 people at the Olympic Stadium in Athens, but nobody could imagine what was about to unfold before them.
It hadn’t been a storming surge to the final for Milan, who scraped past Swiss side FC Aarau 1-0 on aggregate in the first qualifying round, before hammering Copenhagen 6-0 on route to a 7-0 aggregate win over the Danes.
In a group with Porto, Werder Bremen and Anderlecht, many expected the Italians to finish top comfortably. That is what happened, however it was hardly convincing.
While Capello’s side didn’t lose a game, they drew four, including two 0-0 stalemates with Anderlecht, a 0-0 against Porto and a 1-1 tie away in Bremen. Consequently, the business was done on home soil, with Milan winning 3-0 and 2-1 against FC Porto and Werder Bremen respectively.
With only four points between the top and bottom of the group, Milan and Porto went through as the top two sides with 8 points and 7 points, both with +4 goal differences.
Barcelona meanwhile in group A won four of their six games, with hammerings of Spartak Moscow (5-0) and Galatasaray (3-0) at the Camp Nou, and both the other wins coming against Monaco.
AS Monaco were the opponents in the semi-final for the Rossoneri, starring Jürgen Klinsmann and Youri Djorkaeff.
The French were no match for Milan back at the San Siro, however, as almost 80,000 people saw a 3-0 win in favour of the home side.
Marcel Desailly gave the red-blacks the lead after 14 minutes, before Alessandro Costacurta was sent off five minutes before the break. Nevertheless, goals from Demetrio Albertini and Daniele Massaro ensured that Athens awaited for Italy’s best.
The Catalans defeated Porto 3-0 at Camp Nou, with a brace from Hristo Stoichkov prior to the half way point, and a sealing goal from Dutchman Ronald Koeman, meaning the two teams were set for the final in three weeks time.
English referee Philip Don led the teams on to the field, and the whole stadium waited in anticipation for what was going to be an amazing final.
Despite early pressure from Barcelona, Milan stood firm, before taking their own chance in the 22nd minute. Dean Savićević sprinted into the box before looping a cross over for Daniele Massaro, who gratefully slotted home the first. Massaro then produced a sublime finish just before the break, beating Barca ‘keeper Andoni Zubizarreta at his far left post.
Two minutes after the break, Savićević produced a remarkable piece of skill to lob Zubizarreta from the right edge of the box having charged down a clearance. Desailly added the fourth with a cool finish through on goal, and the stadium was stunned. Half was in jubilant celebration, not believing their eyes, the other was steeped in misery.
The whistle blew, Capello and his staff sprinted onto the field; Milan were Campioni d’Europa for the fifth time. The Rossoneri had their finest hour in Athens, and it is one that nobody can ever forget.