Going into round ten of the 1999-2000 Serie A season, Inter were preparing to take on Serie A minnows Lecce at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milano’s San Siro district.
After a disappointing run of form which saw the Nerazzurri lose the Milano derby, tie against Lazio and drop crucial points against Venezia and Bologna, the home side were hoping to turn their season around with a win at hope against Serie A newcomers.
After a disappointing eighth place finish in the 1998-99 Serie A season, Inter appointed former Juventus manager Marcello Lippi in an ambitious attempt to start another campaign for the elusive Scudetto. With the last title coming a decade before the start of 1999-00 season under the stewardship of Giovanni Trapattoni, Inter were hoping to start a new cycle in the upcoming season by investing heavily in the transfer market.
Splashing a world record transfer fee of €49 million on Lazio striker Christian Vieri and signing stars such as French national team captain Laurent Blanc, Christian Panucci, Angelo Peruzzi, Vladimir Jugovic and Luigi Di Biagio, the team was heavily reinforced and led by Il Fenomeno, Ronaldo.
Lecce had just returned to Italy’s top division after pin-balling finishes in lower divisions after first coming to Serie A in 1985. With their most recent trip back to Italy’s top flight being unsuccessful, the team was hoping to stick around a bit longer.
Going into the difficult trip to San Siro, Lecce found themselves well outside the relegation zone in eleventh place with eleven points and a point outside the top ten spots in the league standings. With only three points separating them from sixth place Inter side, the visitors were going into round ten match in Milan with high hopes.
Inter’s Starting Line-up looked as follows with Angelo Peruzzi, Javier Zanetti, Salvatore Fresi, Laurent Blanc, Christian Panucci, Grigoris Georgatos, Francesco Moriero, Vladimir Jugovic, Luigi Di Biagio, Ronaldo, Ivan Zamorano.
Whilst Lecce’s Starting Line-up looked as follows: Antonio Chimenti, Juarez, Gianluca Colonnello, Alberto Savino, William Viali, Davide Balleri, Lima, Luigi Piangerelli, David Sesa, Cristiano Lucarelli.
The Nerazzurri didn’t waste any time in jumping ahead with an early 1-0 lead from a well-placed Georgatos left-footed free-kick right outside the right edge of the penalty box. After conceding early, Lecce found themselves reeling from the early goal.
Failing to get back into the match, conceded yet another goal around twelve-minute mark as Javier Zanetti made a marauding run forward and ran through the midfield and defense, to Inter’s second goal past Lecce goal-keeper Chimenti.
With an early two goal deficit and a mountain to climb, Lecce tried to slow the tempo of the game and retained possession in their attempt to keep the ball away from the home side and mount a comeback. Inter, fully aware of the change of tactics, played physical in their own half to win the ball back and jump to a counter-attack, relying on the pace of Il Fenomeno and Bam Bam.
Lecce defenders had a clear plan to stop Ronaldo and it worked for most part but had a consequence of leaving other Nerazzurri players unmarked. Lippi seeing the double, triple and often quadruple team defending on Ronaldo, took advantage of this tactic and asked midfielder to run into the box.
The adjustment resulted in Inter’s third goal as Blanc’s long-range pass from the back to Ronaldo found the run of Jugovic completely unmarked and he comfortably put the shot past Chimenti for a resounding 3-0 lead. Before half-time, Nerazzurri managed yet another goal as Zamorano ran the length of the field on counter-attack received a pass from Zanetti and curled a beautiful shot past a helpless Chimenti for a dominant 4-0 lead at half-time.
Following the rude-awakening in the first half, surprisingly Lecce did not make any half-time changes. With the result already in the bag, Lippi was looking to rest his starters and give some of the bench players a chance. Francesco Moriero was substituted before the start of second half for French winger Benoit Cauet.
The Nerazzurri continued with similar strategy in the second half as well. The visitors were unable to get anything going on offense, failed to respond to the physical nature of the Nerazzurri defense. In defense, Lecce’s strategy of hording Ronaldo the moment he gets the ball backfired also as he was brought down inside the penalty box and converted the resulting penalty-kick for Inter’s fifth goal of the match.
With no hope of a comeback left in the match, Alberto Cavasin used all three of his substitutes to give bench players few minutes before the end of the match. The home side continued to dominate the match and second half substitute Alvaro Recoba put the cherry on the top of a brilliant team performance with a flick behind the back, over the top of the center back followed up with a flick over the on rushing goal-keeper to score a sumptuous goal for the sixth goal of the match.
The Nerazzurri finished the match in a resounding fashion, thumping the minnows at San Siro 6-0 to start a three game winning streak and jump ahead of rivals AC Milan to fifth place in the standings, just four points behind leaders Lazio.