Throwback Thursday: When Inter and Milan Staged an 11-Goal Derby!

The Derby della Madonnina – the battle between Inter and Milan for football supremacy in the city of Milano – has been staged in hundreds of occasions across the history of Serie A. Some occurrences were unwatchable boredom but some other turned out to be unforgettable goal-fests which went straight down into the Serie A hall of fame.

To find one of these – and precisely the Derby di Milano with the most goals scored ever – we must leaf through the Serie A almanacs back to post-war Italy. Our destination is November 6, 1949, when the San Siro witnessed an incredible derby featuring 11 goals – 6 for the Nerazzurri and 5 for the Rossoneri.

The game took place at a very unique moment for football in the Belpaese. Technically, Italy were still the incumbent World Champions – though the last edition of the World Cup was played 11 years earlier.

The country was still rebuilding from the ruins of World War II and the local football movement was doing the same. When a new World Cup would eventually be played the following Summer, the Azzurri wouldn’t make it past the Group Stage.

That was not only due to the post-war hardships, however, as a few months before the beginning of the 1949-50 season, the calcio movement had suffered another tragedy – perhaps the most heartbreaking in its history: the Superga air crash, where the whole Grande Torino squad perished. Up to 10 out of the 11 Azzurri regular starters were part of that formidable squad.

The 1949-50 season was thus the first one without the Grande Torino. It didn’t end up being a boring one, however, and it would go down in history as of the most prolific when it came to scoring. Title winner Juventus would come up to tally 100 goals (!) in 38 games, led by their Danish striker John Hansen.

But Milan, despite catching the second place, would do even better as they totaled an incredible 118 goals, including 7 to future Scudetto winner Juventus in a memorable 1-7 showdown at the Stadio Comunale of Turin. Coached by Hungarian manager Lajos Czeizler, the Rossoneri had a scoring engine powered by a legendary trio from Sweden: Gunnar Green, Gunnar Nordahl, and Nils Liedholm, known as the Gre-No-Li – three syllables whose only spelling was enough to scare any defense of those days.

…and Inter? The Beneamata would limit themselves to score “only” 99 goals that season. Their most representative name was Istvan / Etienne Nyers, a French-Hungarian striker who had lost his nationality when his birthplace region was contended between Hungary and Yugoslavia. He was officially recorded as a “stateless person.”

That wouldn’t prevent him from tallying an impressive 133 goals out of 182 games with Inter. To date, he is still the most prolific cannoniere to ever have worn the Nerazzurri jersey.

Dutch striker Faas Servaas Wilkes was Inter’s additional foreign player. Nicknamed the “Mona Lisa of Rotterdam, ” he was the first Dutchman to play in Serie A and was no less than Johan Cruijff’s youth idol.

Eleven goals in a single Derby di Milano between Inter and Milan…how on earth is this ever going to happen again?

When they “hosted” the cross-town rivals at the San Siro in round 10 of the season, Inter couldn’t count on future Italy manager Enzo Bearzot (the one of the 1982 World Cup campaign) in defense whereas Milan were in their full ranks.

Things didn’t look good for the Nerazzurri and the start of the game seemed to confirm that, with Milan’s striker Enrico Candiani (a former Inter player…) scoring twice in the first seven minutes already. Nyers kept Inter afloat for a while, but then Gunnar Nordahl made it three for the Rossoneri.

Then, it was Nils Liedholm’s turn to hit the scoresheet as he whipped the ball past goalkeeper Angelo Nane Franzosi. The Derby di Milano seemed done and dusted for the red-and-blacks, and we were only 20 minutes into the game.

Or, better, we were just 20 minutes into the game. Wilkes didn’t like the situation one bit and served back-to-back assists to Amedeo Amadei. Born and raised in Rome, the so-called Core de Roma (“Roman Heart”), who still holds the record for the youngest player to have ever scored in the Italian top-flight at 15 years of age, had just joined the Nerazzurri the previous summer. Amadei made the best out of the Dutchman’s service on both occasions, scoring Inter’s 2nd and 4th goal to put the match back in contention again.

The Rome-born striker was unstoppable and between his two goals forced his marker to push him down in the box. Penalty! Nyers was stone-cold to bury the spot and make it 3-4 to wrap an incredible first period of the match.

Inter were in full confidence now and, after Amadei’s equalizer, managed to place themselves in the driving seat early into the second half with a Benito Lorenzi goal.

But now it was Milan to strike back. Milan had the Gre-No-Li, better not forget that. Just one minute after Lorenzi’s fifth goal, from a Gunnar Nordahl long-range throw-in, his fellow countryman Green headed the ball in the middle of the box. Inter’s goalkeeper Franzosi went for it, but Carlo Annovazzi was faster and out of nowhere came Milan’s fifth to draw level.

Five more minutes passed and Inter were in the lead one more time: Aldo Campatelli’s shot from out of the box hit  the post, but Amadei was once again ready to slot the ball past poor Rossoneri goalkeeper Efrem Milanese – who was not in one of his best days – wrapping his daily hat trick and setting the score at an incredible 6-5 for the black-and-blue side of Milano. And we were only in the 64th minute!

There was potentially still time to see more and surely the 50000 roaring fans on the San Siro stands were expecting that, but the score wouldn’t change anymore. From a Green effort, goalkeeper Franzosi blocked the ball right on the goal like or perhaps past the goal line. The VAR was still far to come so we will never know. Then, Candiani hit the woodwork for the Rossoneri, bringing them so close to draw level again.

Amedeo Amadei celebrating at full time after scoring a hat trick in that incredible Inter – Milan derby from November 6, 1949

It ended 6-5 for Inter, an astonishing score that we will likely never see again in a Derby della Madonnina – though both sides have done their best to at least come close to it, like on February 2020 with the Nerazzurri again coming from behind to wrap a 4-2 win over the cross-town rivals.

The protagonists of that legendary battle from November 1949, wherever they might be now, must have had some fun watching it from the sky.


November 6, 1949 – Serie A 1949-50 Round 10

SCORERS: 1′ Candiani (M), 7′ Candiani (M), 10′ Nyers (I), 14′ Nordahl (M), 19′ Liedholm (M), 39′ Amadei (I), 40′ Nyers (I, pen.), 50′ Amadei (I), 58′ Lorenzi (I), 59′ Annovazzi (M), 64′ Amadei (I)

INTER (3-2-2-3): Franzosi; Guaita, Miglioli, Campatelli; Giovannini, Achilli; Amadei, Wilkes; Lorenzi, Fiorini, Nyers Coach: Cappelli
MILAN (3-2-2-3): Milanese; De Gregori, Foglia, Annovazzi; Tognon, Bonomi; Burini, Gren; Nordahl, Liedholm, Candiani Coach: Czeizler

REFEREE: Mr. Orlandini from Rome