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1988/89: Stylish Milan return to the top

Two goals each from Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten handed Arrigo Sacchi's AC Milan their third European Champion Clubs' Cup success, with 1985/86 winners FC Steaua Bucureşti comprehensively beaten at Camp Nou.

AC Milan celebrate their victory in the 1988/89 European Cup final
AC Milan celebrate their victory in the 1988/89 European Cup final ©Getty Images

FC Steaua Bucureşti 0-4 AC Milan
(Gullit 18 38, Van Basten 28 46)
Camp Nou, Barcelona

European champions twice in the 1960s, Milan AC waited till 1989 before clinching a famous hat-trick of wins. On the evidence of the 4-0 dismantling of FC Steaua Bucureşti in the Camp Nou final, it was worth it. Certainly, there were few impatient voices among the estimated 80,000 Rossoneri fans in Barcelona the night Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten put the seal on an emphatic victory.

The same was true when Milan destroyed Real Madrid CF 5-0 in a classic semi-final at San Siro. That there were five different scorers - Carlo Ancelotti, Frank Rijkaard, Gullit, Van Basten and Roberto Donadoni - reflected the all-round strength of the team funded by media magnate Silvio Berlusconi and managed by Arrigo Sacchi. Yet they were not always so invincible: needing a penalty shoot-out to beat FK Crvena Zvezda in round two, and a disputed penalty, the only goal of the tie, to eclipse SV Werder Bremen in the last eight.

Indeed, the early plaudits had gone to a Steaua side featuring Gheorghe Hagi. The Romanian side romped past AC Sparta Praha, FC Spartak Moskva, IFK Göteborg and Turkey's first semi-finalists, Galatasaray SK, netting 22 times in the process. But just as Milan came good at the right time, inflicting a third straight semi-final defeat on Madrid, so Anghel Iordanescu's men chose the worst possible moment to develop stage fright. The result was the culmination of Berlusconi's dream and a standard of football seldom witnessed at the climax of the UEFA Champion Clubs' Cup.