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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

April 15, 2000: Fiorentina Lazio 3-3

Updated: Apr 15

Lazio's scudetto hopes seemingly shattered in Florence ... again


Spectacular game but deja-vu situation as Lazio fall five points behind Juventus with only four games remaining




The season so far


The previous season Lazio had come agonizingly close to winning the title. They were only overtaken by eventual champions Milan in the penultimate game of the season and in controversial circumstances. Lazio were held to a 1-1 draw in Florence with some extremely dubious refereeing decisions by Treossi, including the denial of a clear penalty on Marcelo Salas.


Lazio had however triumphed in Europe winning the last ever Cup Winners Cup in May (2-1 against Mallorca in Birmingham) and then beaten Manchester United 1-0 (Salas) to lift the UEFA Super Cup in August, in Monte Carlo.


This season there had been some important changes to the squad. Three more Argentinians were signed; defender Nestor Sensini (Parma), midfielders Diego "El Cholo" Simeone (Inter) and Juan Sebastian Veron "La Brujita" (Parma). Another midfielder Dario Marcolin was back from a loan spell (Blackburn) and striker Simone Inzaghi was added (Piacenza). In the summer big Swedish forward Kennet Andersson had arrived from Bologna but after the winter market session was already back playing for today's opposition. To replace him Lazio had brought in experienced Fabrizio "Silver Fox" Ravanelli (Olympique Marseille).


Lazio had also lost an important player in striker Christian Vieri who was sold to Inter for a then world record transfer fee of 90 billion Lire (approx 45 million Euros). Spanish midfielder Ivan de la Peña had gone to Olympique Marseille after a disappointing spell at Lazio and Roberto Baronio went to Reggina on loan.


In Serie A this season Lazio were currently in 2nd place three points behind leaders Juventus. Just three weeks earlier there had been a nine point gap but with Juve's defeat against Milan, the same weekend Lazio beat Roma, and the consequent Lazio win in the direct clash in Turin had reduced the deficit and now the Biancocelesti were in striking distance. They had won 17, drawn 8 and lost 4. The match this afternoon was now a chance to catch the "Zebras" and put pressure on them before their game with Inter the day after. Anything other than a win would basically end the Biancocelesti's Scudetto hopes.


Lazio's historic debut in the Champions League had started in September with a 1-1 away draw at Bayer Leverkusen. The first group phase also included Dynamo Kiev (2-1, 1-0), Slovenian Maribor (4-0, 4-0) and Leverkusen (1-1, 1-1). The second phase group was made up of Olympique Marseille (2-0, 5-1), Feyenoord (1-2, 0-0) and Chelsea (0-0, 2-1).


In Coppa Italia Lazio were through to the final and they would play Inter over two legs in April and May. Lazio had eliminated Ravenna (1-1, 4-1), Juventus (2-3, 2-1) on away goals rule and Venezia (5-0, 2-2).


Fiorentina had come 3rd the previous season and qualified for the Champions League preliminary round. Their manager was Giovanni Trapattoni, master of "catenaccio" but highly successful with Juventus, Bayern and Inter.


This season the "Viola" were not quite as competitive. They however had a reasonable run in Champions League. They got into the group stage beating Widzew Lodz (3-1, 2-0). They then qualified in a group with Arsenal (0-0,1-0), Barcelona (2-4,3-3) and AIK (0-0,3-0). In the second stage they fell short after a promising start with Manchester United (2-0,1-3), Bordeaux (0-0,3-3) and Valencia (1-0,0-2).


In Serie A they were in 8th place after 10 wins, 10 draws and 8 defeats. A week earlier the Florentines had drawn 1-1 away against Milan.


Fiorentina had some good players; Gabriel Batistuta was a goal machine, Manuel Rui Costa a top class midfielder and they also had goalkeeper Francesco Toldo, midfielder Angelo Di Livio plus strikers Enrico Chiesa and Pedrag Mijatovic (former Real Madrid- scored winning goal in Champions League '98 final). On the bench were former Lazio Paul Okon known as "Il Poeta" (the poet), who had an unlucky career due to injuries, and former Roma striker Abel Balbo.


The match: Saturday, April 15, 2000, Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence


A glorious spring day welcomed the 5,000 Lazio faithful to Florence.


After last year's experience Lazio were determined to come out attacking and that is exactly what they did. The Biancocelesti dominated from the word go, showing a clear technical superiority. However in football only goals count and Lazio squandered chance after chance especially with Marcelo Salas.


Lazio were made to pay for their wastefulness in the 25th minute. A Chiesa cross was headed in by an inexplicably unmarked Batistuta. 1-0 Fiorentina, completely out of the blue.


Lazio's response was furious. In two minutes they had two shots with Veron, Alen Boksic hit the post and then they equalised. Pavel Nedved latched on to a Paolo Negro through ball, Salas dummied and the Czech beat Toldo. 1-1 and a perfect response by Lazio.


A point was not enough however and the Biancocelesti continued to push forward. In the 31st minute they took the lead. A Sinisa Mihajlovic freekick was headed in by Boksic to make it 2-1.


At this point Lazio were in complete control and only a good dose of luck and Lazio's lack of cynicism kept the "Viola" in it. Halftime Fiorentina 1 Lazio 2 but there was regret for Lazio not having scored more.


Fiorentina made one change in the interval replacing Jorg Heinrich with Andrea Tarozzi. The game pattern remained the same, with Lazio going for the kill. In the 54th minute the "Gigliati" surprised Lazio on the break. The defence was caught off guard and Chiesa slotted in from close range after an assist by Mijatovic and it was 2-2.


Back to square one for Lazio but they continued to dominate. A Salas header almost put them in the lead again before a series of substitutions on both sides slightly threw them off rhythm.


Lazio's constant pressure was rewarded in the 82nd minute when Nedved was repeatedly fouled by Tomas Repka in the area and a penalty was given. Mihajlovic stepped up but his shot was saved by Toldo (any Dutch readers will remember him…).


All seemed lost but in the 89th minute Lazio were awarded another penalty for a blatant foul by Moreno Torricelli again on Nedved. Mihajlovic, never one to shirk responsibility, presented himself again for the spot kick and this time found the net. Fiorentina 2 Lazio 3 and maybe the Florence curse was a one off ... maybe.


In the 92nd minute the "Viola" equalised with a powerful strike by Batistuta. The Florentines went crazy, there had been a hostile atmosphere the whole afternoon, despite their supposed rivalry with Juventus. Final score Fiorentina 3 Lazio 3.


A draw that was more like a defeat for the Biancocelesti. They had dominated the game but had not taken advantage of their clear superiority (14 corners to nil just one stat) and wasted chance after chance to close out the game. So history seemed to be repeating itself, Lazio's scudetto dream ending in Florence, if Juve won the day after they would be five points ahead with four games remaining. A possibly unassailable lead .... possibly.


Who played for Fiorentina


Toldo, Repka, Padalino, Pierini, Torricelli, Rui Costa (71' Rossitto), Di Livio (73' C.Amoroso), Heinrich (46' Tarozzi), Chiesa, Batistuta, Mijatovic

Substitutes: Taglialatela, Firicano, Okon, Balbo

Manager: Trapattoni


Who played for Lazio


Manager: Eriksson


Referee: Tombolini


Goals: 25' Batistuta, 27’ Nedved, 31' Boksic, 54' Chiesa, 89' Mihajlovic (pen), 92' Batistuta



What happened next


The next day Juventus duly beat Inter and went five points clear with only four games left. Lazio had a mountain to climb.


A week later Lazio won 2-0 at Piacenza but Juventus won too. Then the unexpected happened. With three games remaining Juve lost 2-0 in Verona (a Fabrizio Cammarata brace - I can still see his name flashing up on the Olimpico scoreboard) and Lazio, beating Venezia 3-2 at home, were suddenly only two points behind.


The next games were full of controversy as Juventus beat Parma 1-0 at home but the visitors had a goal inexplicably disallowed. To this day not even the most ardent Juve fan can tell you why it was ruled out. Fabio Cannavaro had headed in from a corner but there was no offside, not even a hint of fouls, the ball had not gone out of play ... a mystery. Lazio meanwhile won 3-2 away at Bologna to maintain a sliver of hope.


Then came the drama to end all dramas. In the last match of the season Lazio were at home to Reggina and Juve away to Perugia (both teams were already safe). The most optimistic scenario was maybe forcing a playoff with Juventus if they drew in Perugia and then may the best team win. In Rome it was a gloriously sunny day but up the road in Umbria the weather was different.


At half time Lazio were cruising 2-0 while Juve were still 0-0. Then the heavens opened in Perugia and the pitch became so flooded the game had to be postponed for 75 minutes. Lazio meanwhile cruised to a 3-0 win and what followed was surreal. The players went back to the changing rooms while the game in Perugia restarted despite a waterlogged pitch. The 70,000 Lazio fans stayed in their seats, a few listening to their transistor radios and the others scrutinizing their reactions.


At first it was rumoured the game would be shown on the scoreboard but that never materialized. In the 49th minute came the first explosion of joy and thousands invaded the pitch when Alessandro Calori (initially former Roma player Massimiliano Cappioli was attributed the goal) scored for Perugia. The next 40 minutes were agony and became worse when suddenly the stadium tannoy started booming out the final minutes of the game. People reacted in different ways to the metallic echo of the commentary; some prayed, others blocked their ears, others held on to friends, family or even complete strangers meanwhile the transistor radio owners were no longer treated like Hollywood stars.


After an interminable wait and 5 minutes of injury time at 18.04 of the 14th May 2000 Lazio were declared to be champions of Italy for the second time in their history. Twenty six years after Tommaso Maestrelli, Giorgio Chinaglia and Co, Lazio were "Campioni d'Italia"!! Absolute mayhem broke out in the stadium and in the streets of Rome. A well deserved title albeit won in unique and unexpected circumstances. The celebrations were unforgettable and went on for weeks.


A few days later, still smelling of champagne and sporting celebratory blonde and tricolour hairstyles, Lazio also won the Coppa Italia. Having beaten Inter 2-1 in the first leg of the final in Rome, a 0-0 draw in Milan proved enough to win a historic double. A season to remember and tell future generations about.


In the Champions League Lazio reached the quarterfinal but were knocked out by Valencia (5-3 on aggregate).


Lazio's top scorer in the league was Marcelo Salas with 12 goals while Simone Inzaghi got 19 in all competitions.


Fiorentina lost a week later 1-0 away at Juventus further damaging Lazio’s title challenge. They then won the last three games and arrived 7th, qualifying for the UEFA Cup.


Lazio 1999-2000

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals scored

Serie A

34

21

9

4

64

Coppa Italia

8

4

3

1

18

Champions League

14

6

6

2

26

UEFA Super Cup

1

1

-

-

1

Total

57

32

18

7

109

Top five appearances

Players

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

UEFA Super Cup

Nedved

47

28

6

12

1

Simeone

47

28

7

11

1

Veron

47

31

4

11

1

Mihajlovic

46

26

7

12

1

Pancaro

45

28

5

11

1

Top five goal scorers

Players

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

UEFA Super Cup

Inzaghi

19

7

3

9

-

Salas

17

12

-

4

1

Mihajlovic

13

6

4

3

-

Veron

10

8

-

2

-

Boksic

8

4

3

1

-


Let's talk about Attilio Lombardo


Attilio Lombardo was born in Santa Maria La Fossa (Caserta) on January 6, 1966. He was born in southern Italy but as a boy moved up north to Zelo Buon Persico (Lodi). He is nicknamed "Bombetta" (Bowler hat), "Popeye" and Bald Eagle.


He started his career with Pergocrema in C2. He played 38 games and scored 9 goals before moving on but staying in Lombardy.


In 1985 he joined Cremonese. He stayed four seasons in Cremona, the last ending in promotion to Serie A in June 1989. He played 168 games for the "Grigiorossi" with 21 goals.


In 1989 he changed teams and became a "Blucerchiato" at Sampdoria. In Genoa he would have a golden period. With Vujadin Boskov as manager he won the Cup Winners Cup 1990), the Scudetto (1991) and an Italian Supercoppa (1991). He played in the 1992 European Cup lost 1-0 to Barcelona at Wembley. Then under Sven-Goran Eriksson he won the Coppa Italia (1994). He was part of a formidable team including; the late Gianluca Vialli, Roberto Mancini, Pietro Vierchowod, Toninho Cerezo just to name a few). With "Il Doria" he made 272 appearances and scored 51 goals. His main task however was setting up goals for the fantastic Vialli-Mancini partnership.


In 1995 he joined Juventus under Marcello Lippi. His first season was almost a write off as he broke his leg before the league had even started. He however returned in time to play 17 games (13 Serie A, 4 Champions League) with 2 league goals. He won an Italian Supercoppa (1995) and the Champions League (1996) but not as a protagonist.


He returned to form the following season and actively helped Juve win the Scudetto, Intercontinental Cup and the UEFA Super Cup. He played a total of 51 games for the "Old Lady" with 4 goals.


In 1997 he tried the English Premier League experience and joined Crystal Palace. He played 24 games in his first year with 5 goals and even became player manager in March 1998 but the Eagles were relegated. The following year in the Championship he played 254 games with 5 goals until January 1999 when he returned to Italy.


He joined another "Eagled" club, Lazio. In Rome he was reunited with manager Sven-Goran Eriksson plus former teammates Mancini and Mihajlovic. This was to be another golden period for Lombardo. He only stayed that first half season, the next one and another half season but in his time with the Biancocelesti won a European Cup Winners Cup (1999), a European Supercup (1999), a Coppa Italia (2000), an Italian Supercoppa(2000) and above all the Scudetto (2000). He played a total of 63 games with 5 goals (Bari, Perugia, Sampdoria x2, Inter).


In January 2001 with Eriksson sacked he went back to Sampdoria in Serie B. He stayed a first half season and a full following one playing another 34 games with 1 goal.


At 36 he retired and has since gone into managing. He has a son who is now a professional footballer.


At International level he won 18 caps for Italy but never played in major tournament finals.


As a manager he started off with Sampdoria youth teams before a series of teams in lower levels. In 2010 he collaborated with Manchester City for two years with his friend Roberto Mancini. He then followed "Mancio" to Turkey with Galatasaray. In 2014-15 he was assistant to another former Lazio, Roberto Di Matteo at Schalke 04. Between 2014-16 he was assistant to Sinisa Mihajlovic at Torino and since 2019 he has been working for the Italian National team, obviously with his old buddy Roberto Mancini.


Lombardo was an excellent club player. He was an attacking right winger. He was extremely athletic, an untiring runner up and down his wing. He reached his peak at Sampdoria but remained a competitive player even after his serious injury. He scored goals but his speciality was darting dribbling and assists for his attacking teammates. He was an incredibly generous and hard working player and modern in the sense he could attack and defend.


At Lazio he was liked for his jovial character but also made a decisive contribution to the 2000 Scudetto. Players like Lombardo and Matias Almeyda were needed to bring some balance to a star studded team. Lombardo also scored the vital goal in the 1-0 victory over Perugia, six matches from the end, which kept Lazio’s dream alive. Thanks also to Lombardo that dream then became reality. Lombardo will always be one of the boys of 2000.


Lazio career

Season

Total games (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

Cup Winners Cup

UEFA Super Cup

Super Coppa

Jan-Jun 1999

19 (2)

14 (1)

1 (1)

-

5

-

-

1999-00

22 (1)

10 (1)

6

5

-

1

-

2000- Jan 2001

21 (2)

9

4 (2)

7

-

-

1

Total

63 (5)

33 (2)

11 (3)

12

5

1

1

Sources




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