There are matches that (even today) hit you right where the heart is.
There are nights where it doesn’t matter whether you are in the stadium or in front of the TV, whether you are 25 or 13 years old. You remember them perfectly, minute by minute.
There are moments that are indisputably from the 90s, those of hugely baggy but fabulous football shirts that make you nostalgic for the whole autumn. It was cold, it was dark, it was midweek, but it was the Champions League. And Ronaldo and Baggio were wearing the Inter shirts.
No, on that evening Inter did not win any trophy, and 25 November is not a date that truly went down in Nerazzurri history, unlike 22 or 27 May. But that evening Gigi Simoni’s Inter gave their fans joy and wonder, dreams and glory. Just pure and simple happiness.
It was 25 November 1998, the same day and month as the upcoming clash between Inter and Real Madrid. And it was the last time that the two teams met at San Siro. As has also happened in 2020, the Spanish side won the first group-stage showdown between the sides in 1998 (we previously looked back at that game here).
The team needed to win against the reigning European Champions so that they could continue their journey in the Champions League. They needed to win because that Nerazzurri side contained the likes of Ronaldo, Zamorano and Baggio, the latter of whom came on in the latter stages of the game without his iconic mullet, but who was still equally brilliant.
But let’s not be too long-winded here, the photos and images speak for themselves and convey emotions that can still be felt today. There are those spine-tingling images of Zamorano, who was quick to finish off Ronaldo’s shot, making the score 1-0. They celebrated in classic Nerazzurri style, right from the heart, in front of the Curva Nord.
Then, Seedorf, who had scored in the previous match, grabbed an equaliser, momentarily silencing the San Siro crowd who were more determined than ever to push the Nerazzurri on towards a huge objective.
Roberto Baggio then came on in the 68th minute and created an incredible duo with Ronaldo. These were two of the best players of all time, playing right here, together, in Nerazzurri colours against the European champions Real Madrid. The number 10 was a man inspired and eager to spur his team on. And he was joined by his teammates, who were pushing all the way. Most notably, Cholo Simeone was determined to take the fight to Inter’s opponents until the very end.
In the 86th minute, after a scramble in the area involving Simeone and a passing exchange with Baggio, the latter struck the ball with his right foot in a moment reminiscent of the World Cup in 1994. Illgner went down to make the save and managed to make contact with his foot, but his efforts were in vain as the ball bounced off him and flew into the back of the net just under the crossbar. Wild celebrations ensued, with players running a hundred metres to swarm and embrace the goalscorer, Baggio. Colonnese threw himself to the ground on his back after a long sprint just under the Curva Nord. It was pure joy.
Then, Baggio dropped deeper, looking to pick up balls. He raced through on goal and was brought down inside the area, but incredibly the referee, Merk, refused to award a penalty. However, that was an evening that no one could ruin. Baggio put the icing on the cake: one-on-one with Illgner, he took the ball around the keeper and slotted it into the back of the net.
At first, he ran towards the corner flag, before turning back towards the goal. Simeone pushed Baggio, and he ended up being surrounded by his teammates inside the goal mouth. And that's where the photos we remember the most were taken: the whole team were celebrating inside the Real Madrid goal under the Curva Nord, embracing each other, full of joy. The 3-1 victory was pure bliss for the Nerazzurri on a night that seemed destined to become a nightmare but instead turned into a surreal dream fuelled by a magical footballer. It was a team kissed by grace and propelled forward by a spirit that even now makes us remember that night fondly and with joy. Inter vs. Real Madrid, 3-1.
INTER 3-1 REAL MADRID | 25 NOVEMBER 1998
INTER (1-3-4-2): 1 Pagliuca; 2 Bergomi; 3 Colonnese 5 Galante 16 West; 17 Moriero (4 J. Zanetti 57'), 8 Winter, 19 Sousa (15 Cauet 75'), 14 Simeone; 9 Ronaldo, 18 Zamorano (10 Baggio 68').
Substitutes: 22 Frey, 24 Silvestre, 6 Djorkaeff, 21 Pirlo.
Coach: Luigi Simoni.
REAL MADRID (4-4-2): 1 Illgner; 12 Campo, 5 Sanchis (9 Suker 88') 19 Sanz, 3 Roberto Carlos (17 Jarni 81'); 7 Raul, 10 Seedorf, 6 Redondo, 16 Jaime; 8 Mijatovic, 20 Savio.
Substitutes: 25 Almansa, 14 Guti, 20 Rojas, 18 Karanka, 15 Morientes.
Coach: Guus Hiddink.
Referee: Markus Merk (Germania)
Goal scorers: 50' Zamorano (I) 59' Seedorf (RM) 85' e 92' Baggio (I)
Bookings: Sanchis, Mijatovic, Seedorf, Cauet, Illgner, Baggio.