top of page
  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

August 3, 2004: Cardiff City Lazio 2-3

Updated: Sep 17, 2023

Roman Eagles get better of Welsh Bluebirds


Lazio's superior quality comes out as they come from behind to beat battling city.


Photo by Dag Jenkins

The season so far


The previous season Lazio had finished 6th and won the Coppa Italia. This year, however, everything had changed. In the midst of a financial crisis, new owner Claudio Lotito had cut costs, agreed a long-term deal with state debt collectors and was setting up a new look team.


For a start, Roberto Mancini had left for Inter. A lot of the star players also said goodbye; Jaap Stam (Milan), Stefano Fiore and Bernardo Corradi (Valencia), Sinisa Mihajlovic and Giuseppe Favalli (Inter), Demetrio Albertini (Atalanta), Claudio López (América -México), Lucas Castromán (Vélez Sarsfield) and Guerino Gottardi (retired).


Arriving at Lazio were players of a "slightly" different calibre, many unknown. Lotito would become famous for signing nine players on one day later in the summer. So far Lazio had not been particularly active but were in negotiations to bring fan favourite Paolo Di Canio home. A promising signing was Goran Pandev from Inter as part of the deal that took Dejan Stankovic to the Nerazzurri. They still had another few weeks to strengthen the team, the problem was it had to be done on an extremely low budget. Lotito, the new owner, was no "Rockefeller" and had agreed to pay off Lazio's debts over 23 years, so there were some hard times ahead. Luckily, Lazio still had some good players: Fernando Couto (very near a renewal), Paolo Negro, Ousman Dabo, César, Fabio Liverani, Massimo Oddo, Angelo Peruzzi, Luciano Zauri, Simone Inzaghi, to name a few, so it was not all doom and gloom.


Before introducing today's opposition I have to confess they are my second team. My father was from Cardiff and my grandfather played 86 games for the Bluebirds in the 1930's. He even once got an offer from Tottenham Hotspurs but his father told him there was more money in the family milk business… different times. As a kid visiting family I went several times to old Ninian Park. I also remember my father on Saturday afternoons, wherever we were, tuning into BBC World Service to get the “City” score. I remember opposition such as Gillingham, Carlisle, Bury, Crewe Alexandra, Shrewsbury Town and countless others. When Cardiff City were briefly in the Premier League a few years ago I flew back to fulfil a dream of watching the Bluebirds play a match in the top flight (I saw Cardiff- West Ham 2-0). So today's match was just a friendly but for me it was a special one.


It was my first team (Lazio) against my second team (Cardiff City). I also have a third team Brann Bergen plus teams I look out for: Leeds United (for family reasons), Beşiktaş, Osasuna and Hamburger SV. As one can gather, unfortunately I have never got addicted to Champagne…


Cardiff City had finished 13th in the First Division (2nd tier) under Lennie Lawrence. Top scorer had been Robert Earnshaw with 26 goals (21 in league).


This season Lawrence had been confirmed. Cardiff had not made many changes so far on the transfer market. In came Lee Bullock, Jobi McAnuff and future Wales manager Rob Page. Leaving were Mark Bonner, Jason Bowen, Spencer Prior and Gareth Bailey. Cardiff's better known players were defender Danny Gabbidon, midfielder Graham Kavanagh, striker Robert Earnshaw and a young Joe Ledley (who would go on to play for Celtic and Crystal Palace among others and win 77 caps for Wales). Cardiff City's season would start on August 7 away to old rivals Crewe Alexandra… some things don't change.


The match: Tuesday, August 3, 2004, Ninian Park, Cardiff


Photo by Dag Jenkins

A crowd of 15,000 came out to watch the Bluebirds prepare for the season against prestigious opposition Lazio. The Ninian Park ground had once been able to hold around 60,000 but was now reduced to about 20,000. It was a hot and sticky day in the Welsh capital.


Lazio had two last minute absences, Simone Inzaghi through injury and Dino Baggio had a temperature. Goran Pandev had arrived in South -Wales at the last minute. Cardiff City were without Willie Boland and striker Peter Thorne.


Cardiff City started stronger playing classic British style football and with the advantage of more advanced fitness levels. In the first twenty minutes the hosts had at least three chances but Earnshaw was either a fraction too late or imprecise finishing. Lazio had a chance on 25 minutes but Pandev shot straight at Margeston from a favourable position.


After a period of sustained pressure the hosts took the lead in the 27th minute through Alan Lee. The Irish international's header from a John Robinson cross beat Matteo Sereni to put the "Taffs" in front. Cardiff City 1 Lazio 0.


Cardiff almost doubled their lead just before halftime but a Lee header went just wide.


Photo by Dag Jenkins

Lazio suffered the Welsh side's energy and physicality in the first half, but as the game went on Fabio Liverani and Ousmane Dabo started to gain more control of the midfield. The first half finished 1-0, a hard fought 45 minutes and good practice for Lazio especially on corners and high crosses into the area.


In the second half "Caerdydd" slowed down and Lazio's superior quality emerged. The home side made two changes (Warner and Collins on for Margeston and Gabbidon) while for the visitors, youth player Marco Angeletti came on for a subdued César.


In the 56th minute Lazio equalised with their best player so far, Goran Pandev. The North Macedonian finished a good move with an angled shot across Warner. Lazio kept quality possession in midfield and then with a sudden through ball teed up the Macedonian's famous left foot to make it 1-1.


Lazio's satisfaction did not last long however as only eight minutes later the Bluebirds scored again. It was top scorer "Earnie" Earnshaw in the 64th minute who gave the Canton end something to cheer about. He raced onto a ball, turned a defender on the edge of the area and unleashed a shot across Sereni and in the opposite top corner. He followed it with a somersault, cartwheel...and a booking. Cardiff 2, Lazio 1.


The hope for the Cardiff City faithful to earn a prestigious win only lasted four minutes. In the 68th minute Christian Manfredini scored with a powerful, angled shot from the long range. 2-2.


Cardiff were tiring after their energy consuming game plan and Lazio’s technique and skill started to tell. In the 79th minute Roberto Muzzi scored the winner again with a powerful shot from outside the area which Warner, who had already sliced the clearance, should have saved but managed to tip it over his head and see it roll into the goal.


A good test for both sides for the forthcoming season. For me personally a satisfactory score line, Lazio winning but "my Bluebirds" holding their own and coming out head high.


Who played for Cardiff City


Margeston (46' Warner), Weston, Vidmar, Bulock, Page (73' Croft), Gabbidon (46' Collins), Robinson (73' Campbell), Kavanagh, Lee, Earnshaw, Langley

Substitutes: Barker, Parry

Manager: Lawrence


Who played for Lazio


Sereni, Oddo, Negro, Sannibale, Zauri, Dabo, Liverani, Manfredini (80' Melara), Pandev, César (46' Angeletti), Muzzi (89' De Sousa)

Substitutes: De Angelis, Castroni, Ferrazza

Manager: Caso


Referee: Whitby


Goals: 27' Lee, 56' Pandev, 64' Earnshaw, 68' Manfredini, 79' Muzzi


What happened next


Lazio brought in some more new players before the season started. Prodigal son Paolo Di Canio returned from England and in came the Filippini twins (Palermo), defender Sebastiano Siviglia (on loan-Parma) and above all striker Tommaso Rocchi (Empoli). In January Lazio added striker Fabio Bazzani (on loan -Sampdoria), while Simone Inzaghi went in the opposite direction.


Lazio predictably had a difficult season. They lost the Super Coppa final 3-0 against Milan on August 21. Domenico Caso was then sacked in December after 16 matches (W4, D5, L7) and replaced by Giuseppe Papadopulo who won his first match, the derby no less, 3-1, and guided Lazio to a 13th place (not without some relegation worries). The Biancocelesti even qualified for the Intertoto tournament due to the withdrawal of both Livorno and Messina. The highlight was the January derby win with a Di Canio goal sixteen years after his 1989 winner.


Cardiff sold Earnshaw to West Bromwich Albion in September (he would return in 2011) and finished 16th. The Bluebirds drew 2-2 against Crewe and finished the year with 13 wins, 15 draws and 18 defeats.


A few years later, in 2009, sadly the old Ninian Park ground was demolished to make way for the new Cardiff City Stadium. It is still in Leckwith and literally just across the park but without the same character. They have kept the old Ninian Park gates which can still be seen near the new ground. The end of an era.


Lazio 2004-05

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals scored

Serie A

38

11

11

16

48

Coppa Italia

2

1

-

1

4

UEFA Cup

6

2

3

1

11

Super Coppa

1

-

-

1

-

Total

47

14

14

19

63

Top five appearances

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

UEFA Cup

Super Coppa

Oddo

42

35

1

5

1

A. Filippini

41

36

2

3

-

Rocchi

41

35

1

5

-

Dabo

37

29

1

6

1

Giannichedda

37

32

1

3

1

Top five goal scorers

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

UEFA Cup

Rocchi

17

13

2

2

Di Canio

7

6

-

1

Muzzi

6

3

-

3

Oddo

4

4

-

-

A. Filippini

4

2

2

-

4

3

-

1

Cesar

4

3

-

1


Let’s talk about Christian Manfredini


Christian José Manfredini Sisostri was born in Port-Bouet, Ivory Coast, on May 1, 1979. When he was five, he was adopted by an Italian family in Battipaglia (Salerno). He had dual nationality, Ivorian and Italian.


He grew up in the Juventus youth sector (1988-93). In 1993-94 he joined the first team while still appearing for the "Primavera" (U19's). In fact, the youth team won the league title and the prestigious Viareggio tournament, also with the help of a young Alessandro Del Piero.


In 1994 he started the first of his many loan spells. He spent a year each at Pistoiese (promotion to Serie B- 19 games and 2 goals), Viterbese (C2, 35 games and 3 goals), Avezzano (C2, 34 games and 4 goals), Fermana (C1, 29 games and 4 goals), Cosenza (Serie B, 39 games and 4 goals).


In 1999-2000 he signed for Genoa in Serie B. He was coached by Delio Rossi (1-22) and Bruno Bolchi (23-38) and played 25 league games with 2 goals (Empoli, Ravenna) and 2 games in Coppa Italia. The "Grifone"(The Griffin) finished 6th.


In 2000-01 he signed for Chievo Verona in Serie B. He was coached by Luigi Delneri and stayed two seasons. These were possibly the best years of his career and the "Clivensi" first got promoted and then finished 5th in Serie A (UEFA Cup qualification). The "Mussi Volanti" beat Inter, Lazio and Atalanta amongst others. In his first year Manfredini played 38 games with 7 goals and in his second 31 games with 2 goals (Piacenza, Torino) and countless assists. Chievo were the talk of Italian football in those years.


In the summer of 2002 he joined Sergio Cragnotti's Lazio, coached by Roberto Mancini. Manfredini had problems breaking into the team and only played 3 league games, 3 in Coppa Italia and 6 in the UEFA Cup with 1 goal (Skoda Xanthi) and so in January went out on loan. Lazio had a good season and finished 4th (Champions League qualification).


In January 2003 he moved to Pamplona and joined Osasuna in La Liga. He played 11 league games with 1 goal and 3 in Copa del Rey with 2 goals. The "Navarros" finished 11th.


In 2003-04 he was loaned to Fiorentina in Serie B. Under manager Alberto Cavasin he played 10 league games with 1 goal (Ternana) but in January was loaned to Perugia in Serie A. He played 14 league games and 2 in Coppa Italia with 1 goal, under manager Serse Cosmi. The "Grifoni" got relegated after a playoff, against Fiorentina ironically. In Florence Emiliano Mondonico had taken over after 26 games and he and the "Gigliati" won promotion beating Perugia (2-1 on aggregate).


In the summer of 2004, he returned to Lazio. Mancini had left along with a lot of the stars. New owner Claudio Lotito had chosen former player Domenico Caso as manager but he was then replaced after 16 games by Giuseppe Papadopulo. Lazio had a difficult season but ultimately finished 13th and won a derby 3-1. Manfredini played 16 league games with 1 goal (Messina), 1 in Coppa Italia and 4 in the UEFA Cup.


In 2005 Delio Rossi arrived at Lazio. The Biancocelesti finished 6th but were then docked 30 points (for match fixing scandal) and ended up 16th. Manfredini played 26 league games with 2 goals (Palermo, Messina), 3 in Coppa Italia with 1 goal (Inter) and 4 games in the Intertoto Cup.


In 2006 Lazio started with a three point docking but had a great season and finished 3rd (Champions League preliminary). Manfredini played 25 league games with 2 goals (Reggina, Empoli) and 2 in Coppa Italia. Lazio won the first derby 3-0 and drew the second 0-0.


In 2007 Lazio passed the CL preliminary (Dinamo Bucharest 4-1 on aggregate) so Manfredini made his debut in the top European Cup. They were then eliminated in a group with Olympiakos, Real Madrid and Werder Bremen after 1 win, 2 draws and 3 defeats. In the league the Biancocelesti finished 12th and reached the Coppa Italia semi-final. Manfredini played 23 league games, 4 in Coppa Italia and 5 in the Champions League with 1 goal (Werder Bremen). Lazio lost one derby (2-3) but won the second (3-2).


In 2008-09 he played less. He made 8 league appearances and 3 in Coppa Italia with 1 goal (Benevento). Lazio came 10th in the league but triumphed in the Coppa Italia beating Sampdoria on penalties. They lost one derby (0-1) but won the second (4-2).


In 2009-10 Lazio had a new manager, Davide Ballardini. He won the Italian Supercoppa (Inter 2-1 in Beijing) but was replaced by Edy Reja in February. Lazio finished 12th but Manfredini was often injured, never played and was left out of the squad


The 2010-11 season again saw Manfredini failing to get any games under Edy Reja. Lazio had a good season and finished 5th. This was Manfredini's last season with Lazio.


In 2011 he went to play for Sambonifacese from San Bonifacio near Verona. The "Sambo" played in Lega Pro 2 and he played 14 games. The Rossoblu got relegated to Serie D.


In 2012 he joined Agropoli (Salerno) in Serie D but only played 3 games before leaving in January. He joined Picciola (Salerno) at amateur level but never played.


He retired at 33.


At international level he won two caps for Ivory Coast with one goal (Spain).


Since retiring he has worked as a coach at amateur level with Valdiano (Salerno) and at youth level with Spezzano Albanese (Cosenza). In 2020 he became head of Bassano's (Vicenza) youth sector.


Manfredini was a midfielder. He is 1.80 and 73 kilos. He played mainly on the left, being left footed, but could play with both feet. He was a quick and agile player and had a good footballing brain. He was a quick thinking player and, with Chievo especially, specialized in setting up goals.


At Lazio he had some good years, in particular from 2004-2008. He played 132 games and scored 9 goals. He won a Coppa Italia and an Italian Supercup and played and scored in the Champions League. He may not have lived up to his Chievo levels but under Delio Rossi he played regularly and put in good performances.


Lazio Career

Season

Total apperances (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

UEFA Cup

Intertoto Cup

2002-Jan 2003

12 (1)

3

3

-

6 (1)

-

2004-05

21 (1)

16 (1)

1

-

4

-

2005-06

29 (3)

26 (2)

3 (1)

-

-

4

2006-07

27 (2)

25 (2)

2

-

-

-

2007-08

32 (1)

23

4

5 (1)

-

-

2008-09

11 (1)

8

3 (1)

-

-

-

Total

132 (9)

101 (5)

16 (2)

5 (1)

10 (1)

4

Sources



Comments


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page