The San Siro was ready for a party on the afternoon of 28 April 1996—Fabio Capello’s Milan had one hand on their 15th Scudetto. Victory over Claudio Ranieri’s visiting Fiorentina, coupled with Juventus failing to beat Roma in Rome, would ensure the title went to Milan once again.
Capello’s star studded side were strong favourites going into this week 32 clash. Sitting pretty at the top of the table, the Rossoneri had only tasted defeat twice during the 1995-96 campaign, firstly at the hands of Bari, then in the Derby della Madonnina where Inter put them to the sword.
Fiorentina were having a decent season of their own as they chased Lazio down for third spot, despite having already secured qualification for the 1996-97 UEFA Cup.
However, the expectant San Siro crowd was very quickly silenced. La Viola’s Portuguese maestro Rui Costa danced his way through the Milan defence to find himself staring Sebastiano Rossi in the eyes and passed the ball beyond the cap-wearing goalkeeper, putting the visitors in front. The lead would last a matter of seconds though—as Ranieri’s side were still celebrating, Dejan Savicevic equalised from kick-off; after a neat move that left him one on one with Francesco Toldo he tucked the ball under the onrushing shot-stopper to square the game at 1-1.
With the first half drawing to a close Roma were leading Juventus thanks to an early Marco Delvecchio strike. As it stood, Milan would be crowned champions. The home crowd were off their seats once more as the game went into stoppage time at the end of the first half, with referee Walter Cinciripini pointing to the spot to give Roberto Baggio the chance to hand Milan the lead. Baggio, calm as you like, placed the ball to Toldo’s left.
Cinciripini would point to the spot once again early on in the second half, this time awarding a penalty to Fiorentina. Sebastiano Rossi sent the San Siro wild by throwing himself to his right to push away Rui Costa’s effort and keep the score at 2-1. Meanwhile, in Rome it was 2-0—Francesco Moriero had doubled the Giallorossi’s lead. Milan were nearly there.
With just under 15 minutes to play, Marco Simone wrapped up Milan’s 15th title and sent the packed San Siro into party mode. The decisive move started with some trickery from Savicevic out wide. Simone was alert in the box, getting on the end of Savicevic’s cross and, despite the best efforts of Toldo, the ball trickled over the line putting Milan out of site. Juventus fought back to draw 2-2 in Rome, but that didn’t matter as Milan cruised to a 3-1 victory. The title was theirs.
21 years on, the sides meet again. Unfortunately, Milan can no longer call upon the likes of Baggio, Savicevic, Roberto Donadoni, Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi, however in these testing times Vincenzo Montella has managed to stop the rot having defeated Bologna and drawn away at Lazio last time out.
Milan will be looking to build on this when they host Paulo Sousa’s Fiorentina on Sunday night. La Viola will be in confident mood going into this one, having comfortably beaten Udinese 3-0 in week 24, as well as recording an impressive 1-0 away victory against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Thursday night.
Words by Giovanni Dougall @giovannid86