Shevchenko’s Introduction to Serie A

The game between Lazio and Milan on October 5, 1999 was one of the most anticipated in Serie A history. When a football match is ushered in by such hype, it’s not uncommon for the show to fall short of expectations.

But that wasn’t the case that night as both sides delighted their supporters and everyone lime Fandom with one of the most spectacular matches ever seen in the Italian top division. The fight at the Stadio Olimpico ended 4-4 and was embellished by a triple from new Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko.

Just a few months earlier, Lazio and Milan engaged in a thrilling battle for the Italian title. That scudetto surprisingly ended up in the hands of Alberto Zaccheroni as Milan Rossoneri passed Biancocelesti in the penultimate lap and defended a narrow one-point lead in the last 90 minutes.

The calendar for the following season pitted the two against each other early in the season as the showdown at the Stadio Olimpico was scheduled for round 5 of the new one campionato. Lazio had their chance for revenge.

Although it took place just a few months after the previous one scudetto Head-to-head, there had been some big changes in both squads over the summer. Lazio had lost their powerful striker Christian Vieri but received a major cash injection when the globetrotting striker received a record 90 billion Italian liras from Inter.

Milan, on the other hand, had completed the purchase of the 23-year-old Ukrainian striker, who had gained international visibility under the tenure of legendary Colonel Valeriy Lobanovskyi at Dynamo Kyiv.

Despite his unpretentious demeanor and elegance on the pitch that earned him the nickname L’Usignolo di Kyiv (“The Nightingale of Kyiv”) the Ukrainian was a killer goalscorer with a penchant for hat-tricks, as shown in a shocking performance at the Camp Nou a few seasons earlier. Shevchenko scored three goals for Barcelona in a Champions League game and helped Dynamo to a sensational 4-0 win at the Catalan temple of football.

In view of what is happening in the transfer market, one would legitimately have bet on Milan winning the title again and on Lazio losing the train quickly scudetto Run. But in football, things rarely go according to plan.

And like that Rossoneri ended a disappointing third, the Biancocelesti Finally their title challenge succeeded as they snatched the title scudetto from the hands of Juventus Turin on the last matchday. Lazio had to thank Perugia’s goal from Alessandro Calori, who scored the goal Bianconeri An unexpected last-minute defeat at a Renato Curi stadium was turned into a morass by torrential rain.

But all that was a long way off that Sunday in early October when Lazio and Milan met at the Olimpico. The stage was set for a magnificent clash, although coach Sven Goran Eriksson’s Lazio were without his midfield dynamo Pavel Nedved and Zaccheroni had the luxury of leaving his experienced striker Oliver Bierhoff on the bench.

It was the Biancocelesti to draw the first blood as Juan Sebastian Veron capitalized on a defensive error by compatriot Roberto Ayala and pounced on the ball to flick it past Christian Abbiati with a clinical half-volley.

That was unexpected as Milan were more aggressive in the early minutes with shots from Massimo Ambrosini and Federico Giunti. But the early opener cheered Lazio on and Veron fired again from outside the box. This time Abbiati steered him to the crossbar and saved his side.

Milan responded with Demetrio Albertini, who swept Shevchenko out with a spectacular long-range pass. The Ukrainian snuck past Lazio’s defense but found goalkeeper Luca Marchegiani blocking his path.

That Rossoneri didn’t have to wait long for the equaliser. From the left, Serginho whipped the ball in for George Weah. The Liberian’s tap-in was clumsy but that was handed to Sinisa Mihajlovic on the wrong foot, who slotted the ball into his own net.

There was not a moment’s relief as Abbiati was called back into action and had to save a fierce finish from Alen Boksic. From the ensuing corner, Mihajlovic made amends with a tricky trajectory that converted Diego Simeone into Lazio’s second and defeated the Milan goalkeeper at the near post.

Two minutes later, current Porto coach Sergio Conceicao galloped down the right flank and crossed the ball to Marcelo Salas’ header. The transformation of the Chilean gave Abbiati no chance again and made it 3-1 Biancocelesti side that looked like fire.

On a normal day, the game could be considered over. But this was no normal day. That was the day Serie A really found out who Andriy Shevchenko was. Before half-time the Kyiv Nightingale had already halved their side’s deficit.

Shevchenko’s first goal of the night sparked a brilliant filter pass from Andres Guglielminpietro. The Argentine serves Shevawho dribbled past the last defender and then Marchegiani before firing the ball into the unguarded net.

Lazio continued to attack after the restart and Abbiati had to keep his side afloat as he saved a dangerous header from close range El Matador Salad.

However, in the 56th minute, the Rossoneri rebalanced the game. This time, Shevchenko converted a free-kick after Marchegiani fouled Weah.

After some ‘random’ players named Roberto Mancini and Leonardo entered the pitch for Lazio and Milan respectively – just to give you an idea of ​​the absurd amount of football quality on display that night – Milan fans got a glimpse of the feeling between Weah and Shevchenko.

It wouldn’t be long as the great Liberian would leave that Rossoneri a few months later, but the goal that put Milan to an incredible 3-4 lead was one to remember: Weah took the Ukrainian into the box with a perfectly timed diagonal pass and Sheva shot past his opponent with a gentle touch before shoving it past Marchegiani with an equally beautiful move.

However, it wasn’t over yet. Abbiati saved another Salas header and kept the ball square on the goal-line, reminiscent of Dino Zoff’s legendary block against Brazil at the 1982 World Cup. But the young goalie couldn’t do anything when Veron broke into the right channel and served the Chilean in the middle of the box. Completely unprotected, Salas couldn’t make a mistake this time and put the result at 4-4.

Lazio failed to beat theirs Rossoneri Nemesis, but the best was yet to come for them this season. Milan, on the other hand, could look forward to their new gem, Shevchenko – one who would do great as a red-black.

GAME scorecard

October 5, 1999 – Serie A 1999-2000 Round 5
LAZIO – MILAN 4-4

Goalscorers: 18′ Veron (L), 35′ Mihajlovic (L, og) 36′ Abbiati (M, og) 38′ Salas (L), 43′ Shevchenko (M), 56′ Shevchenko (M, pen.), 68′ Shevchenko (M), 72′ Salas (L)





LAZIO (4-4-2): Marchegiani; Negro (34′ Pancaro), Nesta, Mihajlovic, Favalli; Sergio Conceicao, Simeone (71′ S. Inzaghi), Almeyda, Veron; Salas, Boksic (61′ Mancini) (Ballotta, Sensini, Gottardi, Stankovic) Coaches: Ericsson
MILAN (4-4-2): Abbiati; Costacurta, Ayala, Maldini, Guglielminpietro; Albertini, Ambrosini, Serginho (76′ N’Gotty), Giunti (61′ Leonardo); Shevchenko (86′ Gattuso), Weah (S. Rossi, Sala, Helveg, Bierhoff) Coaches: Zaccheroni

REFEREE: Mr. Bazzoli from Meran

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