12 September 2022


Looking back at the Croatians' 3-1 loss at San Siro in August 2000

AC Milan v Dynamo Zagreb in the Champions League has a history with the two teams facing each other in August 2000 in the third qualifying preliminary round. This time around, it will be on matchday two of the group stages with the Rossoneri meeting up with the Croatian side once again on the European stage in the hunt for victory, just as they did in the above-mentioned game over 20 years ago.

It was mid-summer, the start of the season and AC Milan's first game in the 2000/01 Champions League. Zaccheroni's side had to beat that of Vlak's, home and away, to enter the group stages; the first leg was at San Siro. The league campaign was still some way away and the general fitness condition of the group not yet at its peak. Yet, lining up in a 3-4-3 formation, with a strong Italian backline captained by Maldini, and with the quality of Shevchenko, Serginho and Leonardo, the Rossoneri were favourites to go through.

The home side started slow and Dynamo struck the first blow after 20 minutes. From a corner, Pilipović's strong and powerful header flew into the corner of the net to beat Abbiati, who had no chance. It wasn't the start everyone had predicted but the lead didn't last long as Shevchenko found the equaliser seconds later from a similar situation: Albertini's free-kick was put into the box and Andriy rose highest to head home and nestle the ball into the back of the net. Just before the break, Leonardo had a great chance but failed to find double their lead.

After the break, it was all AC Milan, who attacked, piled on the pressure and capped the night off with a couple of goals. On the hour-mark, the Albertini-Shevchenko combination repeated their double act. Demetrio's free-kick took a slight deflection off the wall and flew in the direction of the Ukrainian, who poked home from a few yards out, earning him his second of the night and MVP award. Albertini got a round of applause too from the home crowd after a further assist for recent signing Comandini, who made it 3-1. It was a good advantage to take to the return leg, scheduled for a few days later.

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