Eight-goal Milan make history in Foggia

AC Milan had already secured the Serie A title when they travelled to Foggia on the final day of season 1991/92, but that wouldn’t stop them going all out for a result. Indeed, avoiding defeat at the Stadio Pino Zaccheria 20 years ago to this Thursday would make Fabio Capello’s team just the second in Italian top-flight history to go an entire league campaign unbeaten, and the first to achieve the feat and simultaneously lift the Scudetto - Perugia won 11 and drew 19 of their 30 games in 1978/79, finishing second behind Milan.

Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Carlo Ancelotti, Frank Rijkaard, Roberto Donadoni, Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Co nevertheless knew they were in for a challenge. Zdenek Zemen had rapidly taken Foggia from Serie C into the top tier, and their adventurous side, which included emerging stars such as Dan Petrescu, Igor Shalimov, Giuseppe Signori and Francesco Baiano, knew that victory would see them pip Inter Milan to eighth place and their highest-ever finish in Serie A.

The hosts swiftly found their rhythm and forced Sebastiano Rossi into three smart saves in the first 20 minutes, but it was Milan who struck first against the run of play. Gullit conned himself some space down the right flank and dinked the ball to the back post, where Maldini somehow arched his head back behind the ball and directed it forcibly into the net.

Foggia were not discouraged. Six minutes before the interval, Baiano tricked his way past two opponents, played a one-two with Roberto Rambaudi and squared the ball for Signori, who stroked it past Rossi to equalise. Moments later, Baiano charged on to a long ball, held off Mauro Tassotti and made it 2-1.

But if history appeared to be slipping out of Milan’s grasp as they trundled in at half-time having been outplayed, it was all but guaranteed following 15 minutes of breathtaking football after the restart. Gullit’s piledriver into the top corner, from what appeared an implausible angle, made it 2-2 and Van Basten’s breathtaking strike on the half-volley put I Rossoneri ahead, before their lead was extended when Marco Simone’s effort deflected off Salvatore Matrecano for an own-goal.

Thereafter, Simone scored two goals of his own to make it 6-2, Van Basten completed his brace, and substitute Diego Fuser dispatched a brilliant low strike to seal a scintillating 8-2 triumph. The result left Milan having won 22 and drawn 12 of their 34 outings, and with a goal difference 30 superior to second-placed Juventus.

When asked post-match how it felt to have emulated Perugia achievement of 13 seasons previous, Capello smiled and responded: “They finished second. Finishing second would not have been an achievement to Milan.”