#NerazzurriClassics – When Marco Branca’s Hattrick Led Inter To Cagliari Demolition Job

#NerazzurriClassics – When Marco Branca’s Hattrick Led Inter To Cagliari Demolition Job
December 12, 2021 10:30
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December 23rd, 1995 – Under the guidance of new club owner, Massimo Moratti, the Nerazzurri finished sixth in 1994-95 Serie A campaign under the management of Ottavio Bianchi.

Under the new ownership, the team reinforced the squad in the off-season with additions of Javier Zanetti, Roberto Carlos, and Paul Ince.

Following a terrible start to the 1995-96 Serie A campaign, Club recycled two managers before finally settling on Roy Hodgson on October 16th, 1995.

The team had managed only four wins through the first fourteen rounds and tied six times. Going into round fifteen match-up against Cagliari, the Nerazzurri were in the middle of a two-game losing streak and fresh off a narrow 1-0 loss to archrivals Juventus.

Making things more interesting in round fifteen was the return of Giovanni Trapattoni to San Siro as Cagliari manager.

Following a very successful stint as Nerazzurri manager, Trapattoni had gone on to manage Juventus and Bayern Munich before taking over Cagliari during the 1995-96 Serie A season.

Starting for Inter were Gianluca Pagliuca, Giuseppe Bergomi, Gianluca Festa, Massimo Paganin, Alessandro Pistone, Javier Zanetti, Salvatore Fresi, Paul Ince, Benito Carbone, Marco Branca and Maurizio Ganz.

Staring eleven for visiting Cagliari side were, Valerio Fiori, Matteo Villa, Nicolo Napoli, Aldo Firicano, Giuseppe Pancaro, Mauro Bressan, Giorgio Venturin, Fabian O’Neill, Pierpaolo Biscoli, Oliveira and Dario Silva.

Despite being the visiting side at San Siro, Cagliari created most of the scoring opportunities within first ten minutes. The Nerazzurri got off to a very shaky start and relied upon the brilliance of Gianluca Pagliuca to keep Cagliari off the score sheet.

The visitors were pressing higher-up the pitch to create turn-overs which led to few scoring opportunities on goal. Failing to capitalize on scoring chances, Cagliari conceded the first goal of the match as Maurizio Ganz lobbed the through ball pass over the on-rushing goal keeper to score first goal of the match for Inter.

The visitors remained confident in their abilities as they continued creating goal-scoring opportunities, on one such occasion managing to dribble around Pagliuca but only to have the ball cleared off the line by Inter defenders.

Rather unsual approach to attack the Nerazzurri at San Siro proved to be costly for the visitors as failed to cope with Maurizio Ganz and Marco Branca’s counter-attacking runs into the box.

Before half-time Branca scored a brance on both occasions being assisted by Ganz.

Marco Branca
1 Dec 1996: Marco Branca of Inter (right) in action during the Serie A match between Inter milan and Cagliari at the San Siro Stadium in Milan, Italy. Mandatory Credit: Claudio Villa/Allsport

With a comprehensive 3-0 lead going into half-time, Inter focused on defending the lead and continue to play on counter-attack knowing that Cagliari have no option but to keep pressing forward and attacking in hopes to tie the game up in second half.

Pagliuca continued to have a fantastic game, saving everything Cagliari threw at him and comfortably dealing with the shots on target.

Around fifty-sixth minute mark both teams were reduced to ten men as first half substitute Marco Sanna and Paul Ince were sent off following an incident.

Despite all their efforts Cagliari couldn’t get the ball past Pagliuca all night and Inter managed to add a fourth goal following a corner kick and a goal-keeping error.

Branca completed his hattrick and Inter walked away with their biggest win of the season in emphatic fashion. While Marco Branca scored a hattrick, Pagliuca and Ganz’s performances cannot be overlooked.

Pagliuca made life miserable for Cagliari attackers while Ganz assisted two goals and got a goal of his own.

By Bilal Mirza

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