On this day in 2000, Milan secured a 2-0 win over Juventus, ending their 25-game unbeaten streak, thanks to a double from Andriy Shevchenko.
Milan and Juventus met in round 27 of the 1999/00 season. The two sides, who had hovered up the last eight Scudetti, weren’t fighting it out for another one this time around. Juventus were top of the table, but Milan, the reigning champions, were faltering under Alberto Zaccheroni.
A look through the Milan squad for 1999/00 shows a blend of the old guard – Paolo Maldini, Seb Rossi, Billy Costacurta, Demetrio Albertini – and younger legs such as Rino Gattuso, Serginho and Andriy Shevchenko. The poorest Milan side of the decade had somehow won the title the season before, owing more to Lazio’s collapse than any swashbuckling ascent to the summit of Serie A on Milan’s part. Yet it’s clear this was a side that was in transition, searching for the next successful model.
Juventus meanwhile had seen the return of Alex Del Piero from his career-changing ACL injury. The Bianconeri’s squad was, much like Milan’s, a mix of the old guard from the Marcello Lippi era and some questionable signings from Luciano Moggi, in a period where his celebrated transfer dealings were odd (Ronnie O’ Brien, anyone?).
Juventus rose to the top of the table quite quickly and going into this game, were on a 25-game unbeaten streak stretching across the middle of the season, including beating Milan 3-1 in November.
The game in the opening stages was frantic but evenly matched, with Pippo Inzaghi heading a Zinedine Zidane cross into the side netting the closest either side came. Then came a collectors item: a Maldini error, the defender somehow didn’t see Inzaghi being typically Inzaghi-like and lurking in an offside position, Maldini hit a back pass to Christian Abbiati that the Juve strike reached first.
He rounded the flailing goalkeeper, and with the goal at his mercy, he put the ball high and wide of the goal. Pippo at this stage wasn’t the lethal finisher he would later become at Milan, throughout this game he was hurried, lacking in serenity and prose. It was a miss that would prove to be very costly.
Milan then threatened and really should have scored through Jose Mari. The Spanish striker, who had just signed that January from Atletico Madrid, missed a glorious chance inside the penalty box from a Maldini miskick, firing wide when it was easier to score.
The game ebbed and flowed, until Milan broke the deadlock on the stroke of half time through Shevchenko. Costacurta strolled into the Juve half before spraying the ball to Thomas Helveg on his right. The Danish defender came inside before sending a long diagonal cross into the heart of the Juve penalty area. It was a rather hopeless cross, one that’s regularly bread and butter for most goalkeepers.
Shevchenko managed to ghost between Paolo Montero and Ciro Ferrara to head the ball past a hapless Edwin Van der Sar, who had come to meet the ball but only succeeded in smashing into the Ukrainian as the ball bounced into the net.
The Dutch goalkeeper, who had been a summer replacement for Angelo Peruzzi, was disastrous in his two-year spell in Italy. Despite being a very good goalkeeper, he’s regarded as one of the worst in Juve history.
Early in the second half, Juve are denied a stonewall penalty when Diego De Ascentis bundled over Del Piero in clear view of the referee, who waved play on. Juve, incensed, piled forward in hopes of an equaliser. At the heart of it was Edgar Davids, then at his incombustible peak, the Dutchman surged time and again deep into Milan territory.
With time running out, Juve’s coach, one Carlo Ancelotti, brought on Darko Kovacevic. And he nearly scores, only for Inzaghi to selfishly attempt to go for the same ball when Kovacevic was better placed to shoot. Mark Iuliano shows his frustration with Inzaghi by manically punching the ground in despair.
With six minutes remaining, Shevchenko wins a penalty following a smart give and go with Mari. Sheva is bundled over by Alessio Birindelli, and this time the referee shows no hesitation in pointing to the spot. The Milan no.7 dusts himself down before sending Van der Sar the wrong way, and giving Milan the victory.
This was Juve’s first defeat of the season, and the following week they’d face title challengers Lazio, with the Biaconceslesti winning 1- 0 thanks to a Diego Simeone header. The gap narrowed from 9 points to 3 inside a fortnight. Lazio would of course go on to win their first title in 26 years in the infamous deluge at Perugia.
As for Milan, they would finish 3rd, some 10 points behind Juve. Shevchenko would win the capocannoniere in his first season in Italy, with 24 goals. But Milan would remain in a state of flux until Ancelotti, fresh from being sacked by Juve in the summer of 2001, would take over the job that November. They wouldn’t win the league until 2004.
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