The European Champions Cup. The international season was entirely without surprises this time – the expected happened practically all the time. Only the draws provided variety – so Galatasaray reached the ½ thanks to particular draws, not that they surprised a favourite. And the draw shaped the finalists too – Steaua was lucky to meet Galatasaray and once again the expected stronger team won – 4-0 and 1-1. Thus, Steaua reached the Champions Cup final for a second time. The draw opposed Real Madrid to Milan, so one team had to go… if Real was playing against Steaua or Galatasaray, they most certainly were going to reach the final, but against Milan… Real was very strong at this time, yet, Milan was greater. How greater? Well, after 1-1 in Madrid, they destroyed Real 5-0 in Milan. Steaua, also very strong and led by Hagi, was no match to Milan of Gullit, van Basten and Rijkard, and lost 0-4.
Final, Nou Camp Stadium, Barcelona, 24 May 1989, att 97000
AC Milan (3) 4 Steaua Bucharest (0) 0
17′ 1-0 M: Gullit
26′ 2-0 M: Van Basten
38′ 3-0 M: Gullit
46′ 4-0 M: Van Basten
AC Milan (trainer Sacchi)
G.Galli; Tassotti, Costacurta (F.Galli 74), Baresi, Maldini; Colombo,
Rijkaard, Ancelotti, Donadoni; Gullit (Virdis 60), Van Basten
Steaua Bucharest (trainer Iordanescu)
Lung; Iovan, Petrescu, Bumbescu, Ungureanu; Hagi, Stoica, Minea,
Rotariu (Balint 46); Lacatus, Piturca
Referee: Tritschler (West Germany)
No second European Champions Cup for Steaua – it was quite predictable loss, even if such big loss was unexpected, and there was something symbolic losing at Nou Camp – in a sense, Barcelona took revenge for the humiliation suffered from Steaua in 1986. Perhaps Steau’89 was stronger team the the 1986 vintage, having Hagi, Lung, Lacatus, Piturca, Rotariu, Balint, Petrescu, Stoica, almost a full squad of national team players, all from arguably the greatest generation in Romanian football, but between 1986 and 1989 things shifted in Europe and Milan was really on top in everything.
Milan had more than confident campaign – they eliminated Vitosha (Sofia) in the first round 2-0 and 5-2, then had real difficulty against Crvena zvezda (Belgrade) – 1-1 and 1-1, so had to be lucky in the penalty shoot-out and they were: 4-2. Tough ¼ final against Werder (Bremen) 0-0 and 1-0, and really flying against Real Madrid – 1-1 and 5-0 – and against Steaua – 4-0. Arrigo Sacchi really made exceptional team in which the great Dutch trio played the key role. Milan did not have successful domestic season, but conquered Europe, a much more important triumph. Milan won its 3rd European Champions Cup and they were back on top for the first time since 1969. It was also clear that Milan’s success was not going to be a one-time-wonder – this team was going to stay on top.