Benevento Calcio has been through some hard times. Founded in 1929, the club had spent almost all of its history in the Serie C, the third tier of Italian football, with brief spells up into the Serie B, but Serie A was nothing but a distant afterthought for these fans. Then, the club fell on financial hard times, folding in 2005 and needing to be re-established Cleveland Browns style, but as an amateur club. However, for 12 years, the club worked its way back up into the professional leagues, and then all the way up the ranks of Italian football, until, finally, at the end of the 2016/17 season, by way of the playoffs, they were promoted from the Serie B to the Serie A. Never in the Stregoni’s wildest dreams did they plan on playing against the likes of Juventus, Inter, AC Milan, Roma and Napoli on national and sometimes international TV, in huge stadiums like San Siro, in front of 70,000 plus fans, in the Serie A! But it happened.
However, Benevento have not had the easiest of times in this year’s Serie A season, the gulf in class between them and the other nineteen sides in the top flight well established. In their first fourteen matches, they lost every single one, finding themselves bottom of the league with zero points as Serie A moved on to Week 15. This was the worst start ANY CLUB HAS EVER MADE TO A SEASON IN THE HISTORY OF EUROPES BIG FIVE LEAGUES!!!!!!! (breaking the record of 12 losses in a row held by the 1930-31 Manchester United team, I couldn’t resist pointing out as a Liverpool fan!) So, on Sunday, December 3rd 2017, Benevento found themselves hosting European giants AC Milan at the Stadio Ciro Vigorito, which only seats 18,000 people. These were the kind of moments these fans dreamed of, hosting the likes of Milan, who have won seven Champions League titles, in their tiny stadium. Sure, Milan had just fired their manager and were having a down year, but Benevento had ZERO POINTS. I think most fans went to the match happy to see their club even playing against AC Milan, but not expecting any kind of result.
The first half went as expected, AC Milan dominated, and went into halftime winning 1-0 with a goal from Giacomo Bonaventura. However, Benevento came out fighting in the second half, with George Puscas equalizing just five minutes in. However, seven minutes later, Nikola Kalinic restored the lead to the Rossoneri, and it remained at 2-1 to Milan through 90 minutes and most of stoppage time. Then, in the 94th minute, as the whistle was about to blow, all hell completely broke loose.
Benevento received a free kick, in a promising position outside the box, and their whole team, including the goalkeeper, pushed into the Milan penalty area as they waited for the cross to come in, that would most likely be the last kick of the match. Danilo Cataldi lifted a decent high ball into the center of the box, and it was met by the flashing head of Benevento goalkeeper Alberto Brignoli, who headed it powerfully INTO THE BACK OF THE AC MILAN NET FOR A 2-2 DRAW!!!!!! THE WORST START IN EUROPES FIVE LEAGUES WAS BROKEN! BENEVENTO GOT THEIR FIRST EVER POINT IN THE SERIE A! AGAINST AC MILAN IN THE 94TH MINUTE WITH A HEADER FROM THEIR FREAKING GOALKEEPER!!!! HOLY CRAP! THAT IS WHY WE CALL IT THE BEAUTIFUL GAME! THAT IS WHY WE LOVE FOOTBALL!! I will simply let the video and pictures posted below tell the rest of the story, but I will close by quoting the commentator on the video, “Sometimes in football, you think you’ve seen everything, BUT THEN YOU WATCH A GAME LIKE THIS!”. This is a great story for Benevento, for goalkeepers like me, and just for anyone who truly loves this game, as I assume all my readers do. Forza Benevento! (unless you are a Milan supporter. Cheer up, least this isn’t the worst comeback your club has ever conceded!) ;).
Just look at the scenes, and drink it all in Benevento. No matter what happens to your club, they can never take this moment from you.