Twenty-three years ago on this very day, March 12, 1997, Atlético Madrid came to the Camp Nou for a Copa del Rey quarter-final second leg. Barça were firm favourites given their two away goals in a 2-2 draw, but that tag quickly evaporated in front of 90,000 stunned spectators.
Radomir Antić’s Atléti side took the game to the hosts from the first whistle, and when Vítor Baía spilled a long-range effort after nine minutes, Milinko Pantić was there to tap the visitors ahead.
Worse was to follow.
On 28 minutes, Pantić grabbed his second with an effort from outside the box that beat Baía at his near post. An awful decision from referee Celino Gracia Redondo just three minutes later, when Gheorghe Popescu was adjudged to have fouled Kiko Narváez, led to the penalty which handed Pantić his hat-trick.
The Camp Nou was stunned into silence and before half-time, Barça coach, Sir Bobby Robson, reacted by taking Popescu and Laurent Blanc off and replacing them with Juan Antonio Pizzi and Hristo Stoichkov.
Within five minutes of the re-start, the hosts were, incredibly, back in the tie thanks to a quick fire double from Ronaldo Nazário.
Barça’s joy was short lived, however, as just a minute later, Pantić took advantage of some poor marking to grab his, and Atléti’s fourth of the night. Incessant pressure from the blaugranes paid off as Luis Figo sent an incredible volley into the top corner on 67, raising the decibel levels again.
When Ronaldo grabbed his third five minutes later, the pendulum had swung back the way of the home side, but with four away goals, it would be the Rojiblancos that would go through unless Barça scored again.
Step forward Juan Antonio Pizzi.
With just seven minutes left to play, Abelardo’s header was destined for the top corner before José Francisco Molina pulled off a fantastic save. Unfortunately for the Atléti custodian, the ball fell at the feet of the Barça substitute, and he volleyed home with the aid of the post.
Cue pandemonium on the pitch and in the stands.