The 2002-2003 Champions League season featured two group stages. The first featured eight groups of four and the second four groups of four comprising those teams that finished top two in the first group stage. Milan finished first in the first group stage with Deportivo second followed by Lens and Bayern Munich. The draw for the second group stage pitted Milan against the Real, the defending champions, Borussia Dortmund and Lokomotiv Moskow. In the first match Real visited the San Siro and Milan’s starting line up was:
Dida, Kaladze, Costacurta, Maldini, Simic, Gattuso, Ambrosini, Seedorf, Rui Costa, Shevchenko, Rivaldo
Real’s star studded team featured all of Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Raul, Roberto Carlos. But Real hadn’t impressed in the first group stage and only managed nine points in a group with Roma, AEK Athens and Genk.
The stage was set for a big game that was opened by one of the best long distance assists. Rui’s time at Milan has started with injury and would not be as impressive as he was at Fiorentina but his class was evident and shone in this game. A pin point assist from inside Milan’s half led to the opening goal in a game that would finish 1-0. Shevchenko’s big game mentality was evident and had him scoring one of his most confident in taking on the ball and beating Iker Casillas in Real’s goal with ease with a low accurate shot.
Milan would lose the return in Madrid (3-1 with Rivaldo scoring Milan’s sole goal) but finish first in the group. The team would go on to beat Ajax, Inter and finally Juventus via penalties to win the Champions League that season.