Legendary Italian attacker Roberto Baggio, one of the most talented players to have graced world football, turns 50 today.
We celebrate the ‘Divine Ponytail’ by selecting five of his best goals in European competition, in a career in which he lifted the UEFA Cup with Juventus in 1992/93 and won the Ballon d’Or the same year, among other honours.
24 April 1991: Juventus 1-0 Barcelona
European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final, second leg
After losing the 1990 UEFA Cup final against Juventus, forward Baggio left Fiorentina to join the Viola’s arch-rivals. He started the new campaign with a fine strike against Bulgarian side Sliven, a sweet finish from a Paolo Di Canio pass. He also hit a hat-trick in the quarter-finals against Austria Wien but the best of his nine goals in eight games was arguably the least important. After a 3-1 reverse at Barcelona in the semi-final first leg, Baggio beat Andoni Zubizarreta with a superb free-kick 29 minutes from time; yet the all-important second goal never arrived.
6 April 1993: Juventus 2-1 Paris Saint-Germain
UEFA Cup semi-final, first leg
Baggio netted another wonderful free-kick in added time of the semi-final first leg against Paris, his second goal of the night after George Weah had given Paris an early lead in Turin. Baggio himself had equalised with another beauty, a fine low shot from outside the box after being released by Fabrizio Ravanelli, beating a diving Bernard Lama. Baggio would score again in the return match as Juve advanced to the final with a 3-1 aggregate success.
5 May 1993: Borussia Dortmund 1-3 Juventus
UEFA Cup final, first leg
Baggio registered twice as Juve paved the way for a 6-1 aggregate victory in the final. His first goal in Dortmund was a close-range finish after chesting down a perfect cross by Gianluca Vialli from the left. The second was even better as he sprinted to his right to receive Andreas Möller’s low ball and, turning quickly, shot with his first touch to find the far post with a slow but acutely angled strike. His exploits with Juventus earned the Ballon d’Or in 1993.
19 March 1996: AC Milan 2-0 Bordeaux
UEFA Cup quarter-final, first leg
Baggio left Juve to sign for AC Milan in 1995. One of his generation’s foremost free-kick takers (see his stunning conversion for Juve against Dortmund in the 1994/95 UEFA Cup semis), he notched another remarkable set piece for the Rossoneri against Bordeaux, this one from the right with a trajectory that fooled Gaëtan Huard at the post he was covering. The 2-0 win, however, would not be enough for the Rossoneri, who lost the return leg 3-0 against a Zinédine Zidane-inspired Bordeaux.
25 November 1998: Internazionale Milano 3-1 Real Madrid
UEFA Champions League group stage
After a disappointing experience at Milan, Baggio relaunched his career with Bologna, claiming 22 goals in season 1997/98. The following campaign he returned to Milan to play for Inter alongside Ronaldo. This new venture began brilliantly, with Baggio plundering four goals in six UEFA Champions League games, including two as a substitute in the last six minutes against Madrid – his second, a solo run, climaxed with a cheeky dribble past goalkeeper Bodo Illgner.