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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

April 4, 1976: Lazio Verona 1-1

Not good enough


The Biancocelesti get a much-needed point but the situation is getting grimmer




Source Lazio Wiki

The season so far


The previous season Lazio had arrived fourth. The team was deeply affected by their manager’s illness. Tommaso Maestrelli had cancer so he could not lead the Biancocelesti for the 1975-76 season. President Umberto Lenzini had waited until the last possible moment, and then he was forced to look elsewhere. The new manager was Giulio Corsini, a young trainer who had done well with Atalanta.


Corsini’s idea was to get rid of some of the players that had been the backbone of the scudetto team. So goodbye Mario Frustalupi and Giancarlo Oddi, who were sold to Cesena in exchange for Paolo Ammoniaci and Francesco Brignani, plus Franco Nanni, sold to Bologna. The other signing of any significance was Antonio Lopez from Pescara.


Giorgio Chinaglia was a problem.

 

Long John’s family had been forced to return to the US following threats by Roma supporters. Chinaglia really missed his family so in the summer he went to the States. While he was there he was invited to play a game for the Hartford Bicentennials against Poland. His participation was a media event and Chinaglia felt very important.


Pele joined the New York Cosmos and Chinaglia was invited to see the Brazilian champion’s first game with the club. During the match he asked if Cosmos would want to sign him too. He really missed his family and he felt that life without them, the current difficult situation in Italy, plus Maestrelli’s illness was a sign that his Lazio adventure was over. Lenzini refused any negotiations and threatened Chinaglia with fines and suspension. Long John was forced to come back to Rome but when he arrived he saw that some of his teammates had been sold and that the new manager wanted to rule. Chinaglia demanded to play in Coppa Italia as soon as he returned, the manager said no. War had begun.


In Coppa Italia Lazio did rather well, qualifying for the second phase, which would be played at the end of the campionato. They won their two matches at home and drew the other away games.


In the UEFA Cup Lazio faced Chernomorets Odessa in the first round. After losing 1-0 away in the first leg, Lazio managed to take the tie to extra time thanks to a Chinaglia penalty with one minute to go. Long John scored another two goals and the Biancocelesti went through. In the next round, Lazio were drawn against Johan Cruijff’s Barcelona. A few weeks before the first leg, General Francisco Franco had ordered a few dissidents shot and this had created great indignation in Italy. There was strong pressure from Italian politicians on Lazio to refuse to play against the Spanish team. Lenzini did what he could to get the game played, but in the end gave up. As a consequence, UEFA gave the victory to the Spaniards 3-0. The return game was pointless and the Biancocelesti, packed with reserves, lost 4-0. The stupidity of the decision was blatant: Barcelona had always been against Franco.


Lenzini had then granted Chinaglia the possibility of going to the US once a month to see his family. Corsini did not agree and told the Biancoceleste centre forward that “until I am the Lazio manager you will never be going to the States”. The situation reached its pinnacle in the interval of the first derby of the season. Chinaglia and Corsini fought, the old Lazio guard was with their leader and all hell broke loose. Long John scored the equaliser and that night flew to the US. The next Sunday Lazio lost and Corsini was sacked. The Biancocelesti were 13th, in the relegation zone with just 5 points.


Tommaso Maestrelli was feeling much better and had returned almost to a normal life. Lenzini offered him his job back and the Maestro accepted. But there were problems. Lazio did not have a playmaker since Frutstalupi had been sold. Lots of runners, but nobody to feed the ball to the forwards. By the end of the first half of the season there was a slight improvement and Lazio were 12th, still in the relegation zone, but together with Sampdoria and Verona and one point behind Ascoli.


Before this match the table read: Lazio, Verona and Ascoli on 17 points, Sampdoria on 16, Como 13 and Cagliari 12.


This game was a must win for the Biancocelesti.


The match: Sunday, April 4, 1976, Stadio Olimpico, Rome


Lazio attacked right from the word go. Alberto Ginulfi had work to do almost immediately on a Gigi Martini shot and the attempted tap in from Renzo Garlaschelli. Verona replied with a Gianfranco Zigoni free kick well saved into corner by Felice Pulici. A splendid cross from Vincenzo D’Amico from the left should have allowed Chinaglia to score a simple goal but he incredibly missed the possible header. Another D’Amico cross gave Garlaschelli the chance but his header went directly into the hands of the goalkeeper.


Around the 30th minute Sauro Catellani had both arms up in the air to parry a Chinaglia bicycle kick. A clear penalty for most of humanity but not for the referee. A minute later Verona scored. Big whack from Walter Franzot, Pulici managed to parry but Zigoni was ready for the tap in.


The Biancocelesti reacted and Ginulfi had to save a Roberto Badiani shot. In the 40th minute there was a free kick for Lazio. D’Amico crossed into the box and Livio Luppi in an attempt to stop Chinaglia, kneed the ball behind his goalkeeper.


In the second half nothing much happened. Verona controlled the match, content with the draw and Lazio tried a couple of shots with D’Amico and Chinaglia but both off target.


A missed opportunity for the Biancocelesti, the team is in great difficulty.


Who played for Lazio

 

Substitutes: Moriggi, G.C.Ferrari

Manager: Maestrelli

 

Who played for Verona


Ginulfi, Bachlechner, Sirena, Busatta, Catellani, Nanni F., Franzot, Mascetti, Luppi, Maddè, Zigoni

Substitutes: Porrino, Guidolin, Macchi

Manager: Valcareggi



What happened next


With four games to the end of the season Lazio were third from bottom, one point behind Sampdoria and Ascoli. Three teams went down (two points for victory). The Biancocelesti had to play against Torino who were leading the Serie A. Lazio scored in the second half but an unfortunate own goal with 60 seconds to go gave Torino the equaliser. With three games left, Cagliari were doomed on 15 points, Como had 18, Lazio and Sampdoria 20, Ascoli 21 and Verona 22.


This was Chinaglia’s last game for Lazio. On that evening he left to join New York Cosmos. His last goal was against Ascoli on March 21.


Lazio lost the next match 4-3 in Florence. So now Como and Lazio were on 20, Ascoli 21, Verona and Sampdoria 22. Lazio needed to beat AC Milan in the last game at home and they did. Not only, they literally destroyed Milan, scored four goals and they could have scored many more.


Como had 20 points, Lazio, Sampdoria and Ascoli 22, Verona 23. Last match at Como. After 17 minutes the Biancocelesti were 2-0 down but Giordano had managed to pull one back. At the end of the first half the situation was Lazio and Como on 22 points, Ascoli, who were winning against Roma, on 24, Sampdoria, who were 1-0 up against Napoli, also on 24, as were Verona who were losing in Florence.


In the second half Badiani equalised and the Biancocelesti managed to bring back the necessary point that allowed them to be safe. Lazio and Ascoli were on 23 points but the Biancocelesti had a better goal difference so it was Ascoli who joined Como and Cagliari in Serie B.


Great celebrations and tears at the end of the game. But there was still a problem.

We mentioned that Frustalupi and Oddi had been sold to Cesena in the summer of 1975. Lazio, however, still owed them some money. Furthermore, in the home match, the Cesena goalkeeper Lamberto Boranga had had his car damaged by some Lazio fans (in 1971 Boranga had feigned being hit by Chinaglia during a game and Long John had been sent off) and the club had promised to reimburse him. So, when Lazio went to Cesena in April 1976, the club took the opportunity to pay off their debts.


CORRUPTION!!!! Lazio has bribed the Cesena players!!! There was an enquiry and nothing happened but the club and tifosi had to wait until the end of July to be certain.


At the end of a complicated season there was the second phase of the Coppa Italia to play. The eight winners of the first phase groups were divided into two groups of 4. Lazio had to play against Verona, Inter and Genoa. In the end they arrived third, just one point behind leaders Verona who qualified for the final (which they lost to Napoli).


Lazio 1975-76

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals scored

Serie A

30

6

11

13

35

Coppa Italia

10

5

3

2

10

UEFA Cup

4

1

-

3

3

Total

44

12

14

18

48

Top five appearances

Players

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

UEFA Cup

Badiani

43

30

10

3

Pulici

42

30

9

3

Wilson

40

28

10

2

Ammoniaci

36

25

9

2

Garlaschelli

36

29

5

2

Top five goal scorers

Players

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

UEFA Cup

Chinaglia

11

8

-

3

Garlaschelli

9

7

2

-

D'Amico

6

4

2

-

Giordano

6

5

1

-

Re Cecconi

3

1

2

-

Let's talk about Sergio Borgo


Source Lazio Wiki

Sergio Borgo was born on February 2, 1953, in Soncino, near Cremona. He started his football career with Pro Patria in Serie D and here he met Luciano Re Cecconi and became friends. Cecco suggested his signing and in 1973 he moved to Rome.


That year Lazio won the scudetto and Borgo made a single Serie A appearance in Lazio Cesena when he came in for D’Amico 15 minutes from the end. He also played in the last two Coppa Italia games against Juventus and Palermo. Concentrating on the campionato, manager Tommaso Maestrelli preferred to play with the B side in those games. Borgo also played in the Viareggio youth tournament and was voted best player. Lazio were beaten by Fiorentina in the final. Bruno Giordano and Lionello were also in that team, coached by Paolo Carosi. Borgo was one of the protagonists however of the Under 23 championship (a new formula for the reserves championship) which the Biancocelesti won, beating Fiorentina 4-0 in the replay final. Lazio had won the first leg but had lost the second, so a final game had to be played. Borgo made 21 appearances with 2 goals.


At the end of the season Borgo was loaned out to Foggia in Serie B, but he returned to the capital for the 1975-76 season. Here he made just two appearances and in the summer was sold to Pistoiese. He was one of the protagonists of the remarkable double promotion from Serie C to Serie A. Here he played alongside Mario Frustalupi, one of the heroes of the Lazio scudetto, Mauro Bellugi, who won a scudetto with Inter in 1971 and was part of the Nazionale in the 1978 World Cup, and Marcello Lippi, future Juventus, Inter and Italy manager. He played nine years in Tuscany and became captain.


After this long experience he left and played with Spezia for three years. In his first, the club was promoted to C1. His final two years were with Rondinella and again Pistoiese.


Once he stopped playing, he became a sporting director and worked for Aosta, Spezia, Neftochimic Burgas in Bulgaria, Novara, for whom he was also manager for a brief period, and Derthona. In 2018 he was sporting director for Cuneo but the club went bust.


Borgo was a midfielder and will always be remembered as part of the Lazio 1973-74 scudetto squad, despite having played very little, and winner of the Under 23 championship.


Lazio Career

Season

Total appearances

Serie A

Coppa Italia

1973-74

3

1

2

1975-76

4

2

2

Total

7

3

4

Sources









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