During 2004-05 season, as Sampdoria travelled to San Siro to take on Inter in round eighteen, both teams found themselves in a battle for third & fourth place along with Udinese. With three points separating the teams, a win at home against blucerchiati would put Roberto Mancini’s side firmly in control of their destiny.
His first season as Inter manager, Roberto Mancini was off to a disappointing start. Despite being undefeated heading into the round eighteen match, Inter had only managed five wins and had tied twelve matches thus far. With the formidable striking duo of Adriano and Christian Vieri leading the attack, Nerazzurri had no problem scoring goals, averaging more than two goals a game. However defensively Mancini’s side were struggling, with the only clean sheet of the season coming in the Milan Derby.
Right from the start, Inter dominated possession and moved the ball around with ease. The partnership of Vieri and Adriano was giving Walter Novellino’s men defending nightmares. Both strikers used their strength and attacking prowess to create scoring opportunities by exploiting Sampdoria’s defensive frailty. Despite each striker enjoying an even share of shots on goal, Inter was unable to capitalize.
To try and regain control of the match, Walter Novellino committed more men in defense and tried to double team Vieri and Adriano. Cambiasso and Stankovic exploited this tactic and used the space left open by Sampdoria defense and joined the attack, however Blucerchiati goal keeper Francesco Antonioli was in fantastic form and put on a masterful performance and kept both teams on even terms. As half-time was approaching, Aimo Diana’s first time cross to the far left post found the run of Max Tonetto who placed a weak left footed shot past a poorly positioned Francesco Toldo to give Sampdoria the lead against the run of play.
As second half resumed, Inter continued knocking on the door looking for the equalizer, however Antonioli’s superb form continued as he denied shot after shot from Vieri and Adriano. As pressure continued to mount on the home side, each miss from Adriano was starting to weigh more and more on him and quality of his finishing was progressively getting worse. Mancini seeing more of the same from the first half, was forced to make a change, and brought on Alvaro Recoba and Obafemi Martins to secure eighth comeback of the season.
However, instead of tying the game, Inter conceded a second goal to Sampdoria against the run of play as substitute Vitaly Kutuzov made instant impact by scoring off a turn over by Emre Belozoglu following a corner kick. With a two goal lead playing away at San Siro, Sampdoria were looking to park the bus and play out the remaining seven minutes.
Known for his thunderous left foot, Recoba long range effort ricocheted off the left post with five minutes left, gave the sense to the Nerazzurri faithful that it was one of those nights where the ball just wouldn’t go in the back of the net. As fans started heading towards the exit, accepting the pending loss, Roberto Mancini’s side kept fighting. As the match was heading towards the finishline, Recoba played a perfectly weighted through ball to Martins who used his pace to change direction inside the box and placed the ball in the bottom right corner, leaving no chance for Antonioli.
1-2 score line, 2 minutes remaining. Inter kept pressing for the game tying goal as time was winding down, however time and again just like first half, Antonioli parried away everything Inter shot at him. As game went into injury time, Martins chased a loose ball inside the box and fought off horde of Sampdoria defenders with his tenacity and played an acrobatic cross towards the center of the box to find a wide open Christian Vieri who scored Inter’s second goal, tying the game at 2-2!
San Siro erupted and the players feed off that vibe and pushed on, looking for the late winner to secure all three points. With the game already in injury time, Inter had Sampdoria on the run and away side seemed desperate for referee to blow the final whistle. As the final minute of added time approached, Stankovic laid off the ball for on rushing Alvaro Recoba who unleashed his left footed shot, perfectly placing it past Antonioli to complete the miraculous comeback! 3-2 to Inter! Game, set, match!
Inter had come back from nowhere to win the match! As the game came to a close, Inter commentator enjoying the moment along with rowdy San Siro crowd screaming at the top of his voice “Nothing is impossible for this Inter team.”