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Mostbet: AC Milan – Red Star Belgrade.

Mostbet: On November 10, 1988, Arrigo Sacchi’s AC Milan faced Red Star Belgrade at their Maracana Stadium in the second round of the European Cup. The match, replayed the day before after being stopped due to fog, took a horrific turn shortly before halftime.

The score became 1-1 – and 2-2 on aggregate – when Crvena Zvezda defender Goran Vasiljevic collided with AC Milan player Roberto Donadoni.

Sacchi, in his recently published memoir Immortals, describes the incident.

“Vasiljevic went at Donadoni with force, hitting him with his head and elbow at the same time”. The Italian coach writes.

“Roberto fell to the floor, losing consciousness. These were moments of real horror: he looked dead. The players were waving their arms and grabbing their heads.”

Mostbet: First Aid for Roberto Donadoni

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When Donadoni was lying on the floor, it was Milan’s masseur Angelo Pagani who was the first to reach him. He managed to open the player’s mouth. Clamped by a broken jaw – and free his tongue, which was pressed against the back of his mouth and threatened to choke him.

Milan’s doctor, Ginko Monti, who arrived on the scene, performed mouth-to-mouth artificial respiration. “Roberto showed no signs of life. And then he started tapping his feet on the ground, which often happens to people who have suffered a head injury,” Sacchi writes.

Donadoni’s teammates watched in horror at what was happening. The legendary defender of AC Milan and the Italian national team Paolo Maldini recalled that fateful moment. “He was blue, with his eyes wide open, and he was kicking like an animal at the slaughterhouse.”

Marco van Basten, the team’s legendary Dutch striker, ran to the Milan bench shouting “Medic! Doctor!” before finding solace. In the arms of general manager Paolo Taveggia and burst into tears. Van Basten did not want to play further, but the Milan coaching staff persuaded him. While Donadoni was carried out on a stretcher and rushed to hospital.

A shaken Milan returned to the locker room at halftime. Then they heard the announcement over the public address system. Which was booed by the home crowd. When the same announcement sounded in Italian, they understood everything.

Sacchi explains, “The announcer wanted to reassure the fans who had seen Donadoni lying motionles. On the lawn for so long by telling them the good news coming from the hospital. Roberto regained consciousness, and other than a broken jaw, there didn’t seem to be any serious injuries. Crvena Zvezda fans were booing his health.”

Mostbet: “It was a real battle.”

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The Milan players, including Ruud Gullit, were furious. Gullit had replaced his teammate and was suffering so badly from a left hip injury. That he was only supposed to play 45 minutes. He ended up playing the entire second half plus extra time and penalties. Sacchi called the Dutchman “our courage, our general in battle.” It was a battle.

With hostility pouring from the stands, Milan continued to attack. Their captain, Franco Baresi, conveyed calmness and faith as they looked for a winner. “Every time he came out with the ball at his feet, the infernal flames came out,” Sacchi writes. But an exhausted Milan was unable to score again, and with the total score at 2-2, it came down to a penalty kick.

Stojkovic converted Crvena Zvezda’s first penalty and Baresi answered for Milan. Robert Prosinecki scored the hosts’ second goal. Van Basten then came into the game.

Sacchi: “Van Basten moved towards the ball with swan-like elegance. He barely touched the ball but it flew quite strongly straight into the top right corner. Perfect execution. I felt like the whole Maracana was frozen by that display of confidence and technique.

The last minutes of the match

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This shot was perhaps the decisive moment of the shootout. Dejan Savicevic followed the home side with a limp attempt saved by the legs of goalkeeper Giovanni Galli. Before Cicco Evani made the score 3-2 in Milan’s favor. When Mitar Mrkela missed for Crvena Zvezda, Frank Rijkaard stepped up with a chance to put the Italian team into the quarterfinals of the European Cup. Sacchi turned away, unable to watch it.

“In the absolute silence of the Maracana, I heard the dull thud of the ball hitting the post,” he recalled. “The blood froze in my veins. But the ball, hitting the tree, rolled into the net. I’ll never forget the sound of that pole – an anthem of happiness.”

“I ran out onto the field and hugged each of my players in turn. We had beaten Crvena Zvezda, but we had also suffered injustice, violence, provocations. They spat in our faces, a policeman set his wolfhound on Alessandro Costacurta. And yet we were the strongest of everything and everyone.”

A deadly battle

However, the joy of the Milan players was tempered by the fatal outcome of their teammate. In a later interview with the Gazzetta dello Sport, Donadoni recalled the scene in the hospital.

“The first clear image I remember is waking up in the hospital room,” he said “. I had two gentlemen with me: one was terminally ill. And kept asking me how I was feeling, the other had fallen three stories. He didn’t have a single bone in place, but he was peeling tangerines. And squeezing the juice on my lips because I couldn’t open my mouth. They were in a much more serious condition. But worried about me as if I were the neediest: what a great way to explain how lucky I was.

“What struck me most was the reaction of my companions, who were visibly frightened and worried. They immediately understood the gravity of the moment. You can tell from things like this the tremendous sense of belonging and friendship that binds you to your teammates.”

Some of the bitterness felt by Milan over his treatment in Belgrade subsided when Crvena Zvezda. Manager Branko Stankovic and Vasiljevic visited Donadoni in the hospital. Milan’s flamboyant chairman Silvio Berlusconi gave the player an expensive painting after his ordeal. But it was Sacchi who painted the most vivid portrait.