AC Milan vs Inter Milan: Champions League head-to-head history
Away goal confusion, matches abandoned and ‘that’ photograph: when these sides meet, there are always fireworks.
Two of European football’s most prestigious clubs go head to head in the semi-finals of the Champions League, battling for both a place in the final and local bragging rights.
The northern Italian city of Milan is home to two of the most celebrated names in world football – AC Milan and Inter Milan – and the two sides meet on Wednesday night for a high stakes showdown.
AC Milan have been crowned European champions seven times in their history, making them the competition’s second-most successful club. Inter Milan have lifted the famous trophy on three occasions but have done so more recently, winning the treble in 2009/10.
The latest tie between the two teams is the third time that they have been drawn against each other in the Champions League. The previous two meetings were pretty special…
2002/03 – Champions League semi-finals
The two Milan clubs meet in the final four of this year’s competition, two decades on from their only other meeting at this stage. The two teams share a fierce rivalry but also share a stadium – the iconic San Siro – which was the backdrop for a thrilling tie in 2003.
The knock-out stage of the Champions League is comprised of two-legged ties which sees one game played at each side’s home ground. In this instance, however, both legs were played at the San Siro.
AC Milan acted as the ‘home’ side in the first leg, meaning that their fans were given the lion’s share of the ticket allocation. The two sides drew the first leg 0-0.
In the second fixture Inter Milan were given the bulk of the tickets and they played out a tense 1-1 draw, with Inter’s Obafemi Martins scoring late to cancel out a first half strike from AC Milan’s Andriy Shevchenko.
So 1-1 on aggregate, who progressed?
Despite both games being played in the same stadium, AC Milan were playing ‘away’ when they scored their crucial second leg goal. UEFA rules at the time ensured that, in the event of a draw after 180 minutes, the team who had scored the most away goals would go through. On that basis, AC Milan secured passage to the final against Juventus and won on penalties.
2004/05 – Champions League quarter-finals
The bizarre circumstances of Inter’s exit in 2003 may sound far-fetched, but for outright drama the 2005 meeting tops it. The two Milan sides met again at the quarter-final stage in 2004/05 with AC Milan once again playing the first leg at home.
AC Milan took a 2-0 lead in the tie thanks to goals from Shevchenko and Jaap Stam. The second leg, with Inter playing host, would once again be decisive.
Another goal from Shevchenko gave AC Milan the lead at the break and a three-goal lead in the tie. With little more than 20 minutes remaining AC Milan though they had found a way back in to the tie when Esteban Cambiasso nodded home a corner, but the referee controversially disallowed the goal for a foul.
This sparked chaotic scenes at the San Siro with the Inter faithful lobbing flares onto the pitch in protest. One of these pyrotechnic projectiles struck visiting goalkeeper Dida and the Brazilian goalkeeper went down injured.
After great deliberation (and one of the most famous photographs in football history) officials decided to abandon the game, concluding that there was a risk to players if they game were to continue. AC Milan were awarded a 3-0 second leg win and a 5-0 victory on aggregate.
This time however, there was no happy ending in the Champions League for AC Milan. They made it to the final but, despite taking a 3-0 first half lead against Liverpool, were subject to one of the great Champions League comebacks.
Liverpool brought the game back to 3-3 with a stunning second half blitz and went on to win the trophy on penalties.