50 legendary matches: Steaua Bucarest, a crazy night!
As Paris Saint-Germain celebrates its 50th birthday in 2020, and PSG.FR has headed ino the vault to relive 50 of the greatest matches in the club's history. Today, we look back at un unbelievable night against Steaua Bucarest in the UEFA Champions League!
The scenario of this 1997-98 Champions League preliminary round tie was simply crazy. The first leg in Romania was a roller coaster ride and Paris Saint-Germain lost the first leg 3-2, but finally lost the match 3-0 on walkover for having brought on Laurent Fournier, who was actually suspended. It was an administrative error that could cost the capital club as much as 70 million francs if they should fail to qualify for the group stages...
But Paris believed in a miracle in the return leg and could count on the determination of their players, ready to move mountains. As soon as the verdict was announced, the captain, Rai, rallied his troops and was confident: "We can make history! I smell something, a fervour, the perfume of victory."
Coach Ricardo fielded a resolutely offensive team, with a five-pronged attack comprising Rai, Leonardo, Gava, Simone and Maurice. The rain that fell on the French capital did nothing to prevent the Rouge et Bleu from storming the Romanian goal in the opening minutes. After only two minutes of play, Florian Maurice was dragged down by the jersey in the penalty area. The referee awarded a penalty which Rai, despite the pressure, coolly converted (1-0, 2'). The Romanians stunned, asphyxiated by the pace set by Les Rouge et Bleu. Paris deservedly doubled their lead when Leonardo's corner was headed in by Rai at the near post (2-0, 23').
Leonardo, once again decisive, set up Marco Simone in the middle and the Paris striker controlled and scored with a shot on the turn (3-0, 32'). After thirty minutes of play, the Parisians were within touching distance. The fourth goal came at the end of an exceptional team move: Paul Le Guen, on his goal line near the corner post, found Simone. A back-heel to Leonardo, who immediately fed Maurice into the box. Nobody could catch the Parisian striker who fired PSG in front on aggregate (4-0, 41').
The game was won and Rai even completed his hat-trick when he headed a free-kick from the inevitable Leonardo (5-0, 56'). Steaua Bucharest were finished; Paris Saint-Germain had turned the tables on their guests, turning an incredible situation around and qualifying for the Champions League group stage. The then President Michel Denisot paid a vibrant tribute to the Parc des Princes public: "Tonight, it was bigger than ever!"
PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN 5-0 STEAUA BUCAREST (H-T: 4-0)
UEFA Champions League - Preliminary qualifying round - second leg
Wednesday 27 August 1997 - Parc des Princes (Paris)
Referee: Mr. Jol.
Goals: Rai pen. 2', 23', 56'), Simone 31', Maurice 41'.
PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN: Revault - Algérino, Le Guen, Roche, Domi - Ngotty - Gava, Rai (c), Leonardo - Simone, Maurice (Leroy, 76'). Coach: Ricardo.
STEAUA BUCAREST : Ritli - Reghecampf, Csik, Rachita, Baciu (Ciocoiu, 67'), Miu - Rotariu (c) - Serban (Munteanu, 71'), Milataru, Nagy (Hrib, 33') - Rosu. Coach: Stoichita.