Cathedral to the World: San Siro and the Stadium's Special Events (Part 1)
It is a stadium where football is the sport and so much evolved from the first game in 1926. Nine decades on, San Siro Stadium in Milan, Italy, developed into a cathedral of football that has seen the stadium hosted so many memorable encounters. A proud and historic venue has seen the pride of Italy, both at international and club levels. The site has also witnessed many other clubs and countries achieve their crowning moments as well.
During the 2014-15 Serie A, neither of the two tenants of San Siro qualified for European football, meaning San Siro did not host a European match until that 2016 final. Nevertheless, it does not take away from what AC Milan and Internazionale have achieved, especially in European competitions.
Drama from Domestic to Europe
Club football has made a significant impact at San Siro as well as both AC Milan and Inter Milan, as both clubs enjoyed notable successes over recent years. Before the 2014-15 Serie A season, both clubs have made use of the home advantage as each won 166 Serie A matches over the past 14 Serie A seasons. Their successes at San Siro have translated to success in Italy with league titles and domestic trophies.
Before 2008, Coppa Italia (Italy's domestic cup) had a two-legged final, and at times, San Siro hosted finals. That included three successive second leg victories for Inter Milan against Roma in 2005, 2006, and 2007. AC Milan's last finals appearance came in 2003; a 2-2 draw in the second leg against Roma saw AC Milan win its first Coppa Italia in 26 years.
San Siro had also hosted Supercoppa Italiana (Italian Super Cup) 11 times in which on each occasion, either Milanese club participated, including 2006 when Inter Milan and Roma met on three consecutive occasions. Inter Milan overcame a 3-0 deficit after 34 minutes to win 4-3 after extra time, with Luis Figo scoring the winning goal in extra time. Two years later, Roma scored a late goal to the match in regulation at 2-2; a penalty shootout decided the outcome, and Inter Milan prevailed 6-5 in the shootout. Finally, Andriy Shevchenko scored a hat trick in 2004 as those were the only goals against Lazio. But San Siro takes on more meaning when Milan's Derby della Madonnina comes alive.
There was AC Milan's most exceptional day in the rivalry on May 11, 2001: its 6-0 victory on Round 30 is the largest victory for either club ever in the derby. Having scored twice in this match, Shevchenko enjoyed success in this derby as he scored 14 goals for AC Milan, the most by any player in this derby.
He also scored two years later in another historic first for the derby:
Both teams looked to reach the UCL final, and both legs would be at San Siro, where the aggregate over the two legs finished 1-1. AC Milan was the away club in the second leg AC Milan and scored in that second leg. That player who scored that goal was Shevchenko; he did it again in the UCL quarterfinals in 2005.
His goal, which was the UCL's 3400th goal, put AC Milan up 3-0 on aggregate. After that goal, chaos ensued after referee Markus Merk disallowed an Inter goal, a controversial decision outraged Inter's fans. What happened next was a scary escalation that involved fans throwing flares onto the field, one of which struck AC Milan's goalkeeper Dida. The referee abandoned the match as AC Milan celebrated. Inter Milan received a stiff punishment as it played its next four European home matches behind closed doors.
European Club Adventures
Besides to their successes at club level, both AC Milan and Inter Milan achieved exceptional results in Europe in recent years.
Since 2000, Inter Milan won 40 matches in all European club competitions, including a 6-0 victory over Iceland's Stjarnan to reach the Europa League. Other notable victories came in 2010 when Inter Milan looked to defend the UCL it won in May that year. Inter Milan scored four goals in consecutive home games in the UCL group stage. Samuel Eto'o recorded his first hat trick for the club as Inter Milan shut out Werder Bremen. Three weeks later, Eto'o scored twice as Inter Milan raced to a 4-0 lead after 35 minutes but hung on for a 4-3 victory that featured the coming of age of Gareth Bale.
The same is true in 2005: a 3-1 victory to eliminate defending champions Porto and a 4-0 victory over Slovakian upstarts Artmedia Petrzalka. In both matches, Adriano scored a hat trick while veteran Luis Figo recorded the tournament's 3600th goal against Artmedia Petrzalka. Inter had scored more landmark goals at San Siro. A year earlier, Obafemi Martins scored the 3300th goal in the UCL in a 3-0 victory over Anderlecht; in 2008, Maicon's opening goal against Werder Bremen bumped the UCL goal tally to 4,400 goals.
In contrast, AC Milan has given up landmark goals: during the 2000-01 UCL, AC Milan allowed the tournament's 1700th and 1800th goals to Rivaldo and Mario Jardel, respectively. In 2006, AC Milan allowed Barcelona's Ludovic Giuly to score the 3700th goal - it proved decisive as it was the only goal over two legs as Barcelona reached the UCL final.
The first landmark event for AC Milan, however, came on Nov. 1, 1955. On this date, AC Milan hosted a match that saw the only time a club representing Saarland visited San Siro. FC Saarbrücken overcame a 3-1 deficit to win 4-3 against AC Milan at San Siro. Notable about this match was the referee. He went on to referee the 1966 World Cup final. Gottfried Dienst also officiated Inter Milan's 1965 European Cup victory over Portugal's Benfica as the Italian club defended its title successfully at San Siro.
AC Milan won 42 matches in club competitions since 2000. They recorded victories over many teams, including Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Even when AC Milan lost at home, the worst loss has been 2-0, and it only happened three times: Lille (2006), Arsenal (2008) and Ajax (2010).
AC Milan's 2007 victory against Manchester United was memorable, but also unlikely considering where the club was less than a year ago. AC Milan's was at first ejected from the UCL due to its involvement in the 2006 Calciopoli scandal. UEFA did eventually reinstate AC Milan, but the Italian club had to defeat Serbia's Crvena Zvezda just to reach the UCL group stage. AC Milan struggled late in 2006 as the club was 15th in Seria A at one point, but it did enough to finish first in Group H of the UCL.
Kaka spearheaded AC Milan's road to Athens with ten goals in the tournament, coming at opportune times. Kaka recorded a hat-trick against Anderlecht and scored the goal to knock out Celtic in the Round of 16. It was against Manchester United that Kaka and AC Milan came together. Kaka scored both goals in the first leg against Manchester United. He scored early in the second leg AC Milan never looked back as it won 3-0 to reach the final.
Clever Back Heel
Wonder Goal of 2011
Other Notable Matches and Upsets
Besides to Inter Milan's success in 1965, two other clubs managed to win the European Cup at San Siro. A Dutch club won the European Cup for the first time in 1970 when Feyenoord Rotterdam defeated Celtic 2-1 in extra time. Another 31 years had elapsed before the previous two UCL runners-up met in the final, with Bayern München and Valencia meeting in 2001. Penalties played a factor in the final, as Gaizka Mendieta and Stefan Effenberg scored penalty kicks in regulation. The match finished tied after 120 minutes, with both Mendieta and Effenberg converting their penalty kicks in the shootout. But Bayern goalkeeper Oliver Kahn saved Mauricio Pelligrino's attempt, and Bayern won its first trophy in 25 years.
Other clubs have also made their mark at San Siro, and the 1999 Supercoppa Italiana was one example. Despite finishing fifth in Serie A the season before, Parma upset the odds to add to its Coppa Italia it won that year. Parma came from behind to win 2-1 - Alain Boghossian scoring the winning goal two minutes into stoppage time.
In 2000, Inter Milan suffered a significant upset in UCL qualifying; a scoreless draw in the second leg send Swedish club Helsingborg to its first UCL group stage. In 2003, Inter Milan had a chance to qualify for the knockout stage against Arsenal with a match to spare. Instead, Inter Milan suffered its worst home defeat in Europe - three late goals were the difference as Arsenal defeated Milan lost 5-1.
The 2011 year was even more nightmarish for Inter Milan in the UCL in 2011. Bayern defeated Inter on a late goal in their first meeting since the 2010 UCL Final; another German club sent Inter Milan reeling in a quarter-final first leg. Inter Milan flew out of the gates when Dejan Stankovic scored from midfield against Schalke. But despite its domestic struggles, Schalke won 5-2. Inter Milan began the following UCL campaign with another upset - this more unlikely considering its opponent was eliminated earlier in qualifying.
It lost to Benfica in a third-round playoff, but Trabzonspor would be Turkey's representative at the UCL after Fenerbahce's expulsion for match-fixing. Trabzonspor began its campaign at San Siro by upsetting Inter Milan 1-0. Trabzonspor nearly reached the knockout stage, only for another club to pip them three months later. It lost on its two previous visits to San Siro in 2007 and 2010 (the latter being a UCL quarter-final). However, CSKA Moscow won as Vasili Berezutski broke a 1-1 draw in the 86th minute; the 2-1 victory allowed CSKA Moscow to go from the last place to a knockout berth. Finally, there were the heroics of Neftci Baku, Azerbaijan's first club, to participate in a group stage of significant club competition in 2012. Despite finishing last in its group and assured its final European game of the season, Neftci exited on a high at it held Inter Milan to a credible 2-2 draw.
Visiting teams also achieved notable victories at San Siro against AC Milan. Rosenborg, Celta de Vigo, and Lille each recorded Matchday 6 to continue its UCL runs into the knockout phase for the first time. Spain's Malaga, UCL debutantes in 2012, drew 1-1 on Matchday 4 to qualify for the knockout stage, in which a Swiss club gained revenge. A year after AC Milan knocked out this Swiss club in the UEFA Cup, FC Zürich upset AC Milan 1-0 on Hannu Tihinen's back-heel goal 10 minutes into the match.
A year earlier, AC Milan was a favorite to win the UEFA Cup, but a 2-2 draw against Wolfsburg allowed its opponent to win the group. Another German team eliminated AC Milan: Werder Bremen, who overturned a 2-0 deficit early in the second leg to draw 2-2 and to advance on away goals.
Finally, the 2007-08 UCL campaign saw both clubs win all three home games, and their respective groups - the rewarding meaning AC Milan and Inter Milan would host the second leg. The stadium clash meant Inter Milan hosted its match a week later than scheduled. Although the teams winning a combined six games, AC Milan and Inter Milan suffered losses to English clubs - Inter Milan 1-0 to Liverpool and AC Milan 2-0 to Arsenal. For AC Milan, it was the first time an English club defeated AC Milan at San Siro.
Over 90 years, San Siro has become the spectacle of football for both club and country. Countless matches have been played as various emotions and reactions had made this stadium a real unique place for football fans. When 2016 arrives, San Siro will continue the legacy that has made the stadium special for 90 years.
AC Milan and Inter Milan over the Years in Europe
- Classic Stadium: San Siro - Milan's cathedral of football - FIFA.com
Take a look at one of the world's best stadiums in San Siro
- San Siro (info) | AC Milan
Learn more info about San Siro Stadium
- Internazionale – UEFA.com
- Milan – UEFA.com
Relive some of AC Milan and Inter Milan's classic matches at San Siro over the years as uefa.com provides exclusive reviews of all matches.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 Antonio Martinez