Trapattoni - aged just 52 but looking like an elderly Milanese detective tempted out of retirement to crack one last case – gazed on in bewilderment. His team had done everything bar score. Samp could barely get out of their own half.
Alessandro Bianchi somehow missed an open goal. Aldo Serena's thumping volley was punched away by Pagliuca. The pressure was relentless. It was incessant, a siege.
And then... a misplaced Matthaus pass falls to Vialli, who collects the ball and runs at Massimo Paganin. Inter re-group and the opportunity seems to have faded. But Vialli knows what he’s doing. He cuts back inside, waiting for 33-year-old midfielder Giuseppe Dossena who runs on to his team-mate’s perfectly waited pass and BANG... Samp's first attack of the second half and, incredibly, they're ahead.
Inter are stunned. Samp can barely believe it either.
But still the hosts swarm forward. Nicola Berti is body checked inside the box. Penalty! But the usually unflappable Matthaus's spot kick is saved and the rebound scrambled away. None of this – not one bit – makes any sense.
On a rare counter attack, Lombardo breaks free of the last man before rounding Walter Zenga... and rolling the ball against the post. He collects the rebound and finds Vialli whose shot is somehow cleared off the line. A sell out San Siro (and how wonderful it is to see the old stadium packed full) can’t take much more.
Inter attack. The crowd urge - no, demand - them to score. But Pagliuca is having the game of his life. It’s his magnum opus. He won't be beaten. Not today.
With 15 minutes remaining, the unthinkable happens: Samp score again. Inter have thrown everything at their title rivals. But Boskov's team – as they have done so often this season – turn water into wine and double their advantage. Vialli, that magnificent man of redemption, shrugs off Riccardo Ferri, surges past Zenga, and, after what seems like a lifetime, lashes the ball into the net - and they're home and hosed. The title is surely theirs (spoiler alert - it is theirs).
As the clock ticked towards 90 minutes and as Inter continued in vain to find the net, sections of the home fans began tearing out seats and hurling flares on the pitch, despite the pleading protestations of Klinsmann, Matthaus and co. It was all too much for them.
When the final whistle blew, Vialli, Pagliuca and co danced on the pitch. They knew it now: Samp were there. Well, pretty much. Three points were required from their final three games. A point at Torino and a 3-0 victory over Lecce on 19 May followed and the impossible, implausible dream had been made reality.