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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

December 14, 2003: Ancona Lazio 0-1

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

A Liverani pearl in a gloomy afternoon


A fantastic Liverani goal gives a not so brilliant Lazio a win at Ancona.





The season so far


Knowing Roberto Mancini, he must have been very disappointed when the Lazio management told him there was no money for transfers. Goodbye scudetto heroes Luca Marchegiani, Giuseppe Pancaro and Diego Simeone as well as Enrico Chiesa, Dino Baggio and Lucas Castroman. Welcome Roberto Muzzi, Ousmane Dabo, Demetrio Albertini, Luciano Zauri and Matteo Sereni. Not exactly what ambitious Mancini would have wanted.


But this is what a deeply financially troubled Lazio could afford and there was nothing one could do about it. Impossible to extend Dejan Stankovic’s contract so he was obviously going to have to go but instead he stayed, at least for the moment.


The season started with the Champion’s League qualifying round against Benfica. A comfortable win at home for 3-1 was money in the bank for Lazio who also won the away match.


However, the group stage was dismal despite an excellent start with a win away against Besiktas. Two home draws against Sparta Prague and the Turkish side plus a double defeat against Chelsea meant that Lazio needed to win away against the Czechs. Despite Lazio having numerous chances, they lost in injury time and were last in the group, hence no UEFA Cup consolation.


Mancini was not happy and accused the players of not putting in enough effort. The players though were not convinced of Mancini’s change from a 4-4-2 formation which Lazio had been using for a long while, to a 4-3-3 line up. They felt more comfortable with the old style of play and the manager had “intense” discussions with the team.


In Campionato, Lazio were fairly inconsistent. Good start, but then they just seemed to forget playing some matches, the 3-0 loss at Siena in late November being the prime example. However, when all seemed like doom and gloom, Lazio suddenly stirred and the week before today’s game beat Juventus 2-0, showing that there was potential if only the players put their brain and heart in the right place.


The match: Sunday, December 14, 2003, Ancona, Stadio Del Conero


Lazio came into this match following a great win against Juventus the previous week but also defeat in Champions League in Prague four days earlier. What Lazio would we have today?


Mancini insisted with the 4-3-3 and a front line made up of Muzzi, Bernardo Corradi and Stefano Fiore. But Lazio did absolutely nothing in the first half, with the exception of a half chance for Corradi. The players did not have a clue what to do and risked falling behind when Marco Esposito hit the cross bar in the 25th minute. Muzzi did not last long and was replaced by Sergio Conceição after 18 minutes. Sereni made two decisive saves and the first half was thankfully goalless.


The Lazio manager had to change something and Simone Inzaghi came in taking Albertini’s place. Back to a more logical 4-4-2, the players woke up and Ancona fell apart.


However, it took a pearl from Fabio Liverani in the 76th minute to get Lazio to score. The Lazio midfielder received the ball from Fiore, took a few steps and saw Alessio Scarpi a bit too far forward. The magnificent lob went over the goalkeeper and under the crossbar.


1-0 and three points to Lazio.


Who played for Ancona


Scarpi, Esposito (72' Maltagliati), Viali, Lombardi, Daino, Carrus, Andersson (62' Parente), Baccin, Sommese (67' Maini), Rapaic, Pandev.

Substitutes: Marcon, Sussi, Bruno, Ganz.

Manager: Sonetti.


Who played for Lazio


Substitutes: Casazza, Zauri, Gottardi, Delgado

Manager: Mancini



What happened next


The financial difficulties left the players and the manager with a degree of uncertainty about their future and many used the season to plan for the next one. Mancini started secret talks with Inter and tempted most of Lazio’s players to go with him. Stam told the club that he had no intention of staying once his contract was over but was not interested in following Mancini. Dejan Stankovic was sold to Inter six months before his contract expired so at least Lazio got a little bit of money plus half of Goran Pandev.


The campionato should have given a different verdict. Lazio was constantly very close to a Champions League qualification but missed out in the end. Too many injuries, too much uncertainty and too many controversial refereeing decisions to be able to achieve the objective. The team managed to play some extremely spectacular games but also put in very dismal performances. Too inconsistent to hope for anything better than than a UEFA Cup qualification


The real Lazio could be admired in Coppa Italia. After easily brushing off Modena, in January Lazio had to face Parma in the quarter finals. Stankovic scored both at home and away and gave Lazio the qualification pass for the semi final against Milan. These were his final games for Lazio.


Lazio surprisingly won in Milan in the first leg and in the second leg at home put on a wonderful display, perhaps one of the best games Lazio have ever played, at least in its recent history, and won 4-0.


The final was against Juventus with the first leg at home. Lazio won 2-0 but it could have been even better as the Biancocelesti played at a similar level as against Milan and even missed a penalty. The return match was complicated and Lazio went down 2-0, but a splendid header by Corradi, the worst player on the pitch up to that moment, gave Lazio its fourth Coppa Italia.


The 2003-2004 season was an end of an era. Nothing will ever be the same. Claudio Lotito was on his way.


Lazio 2003-04

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals Scored

Serie A

34

16

8

10

52

Coppa Italia

8

6

2

-

16

Champions League

8

3

2

3

10

Total

50

25

12

13

76

Top Five Appearances

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

Fiore

47

32

7

8

Corradi

46

32

6

8

Oddo

44

31

7

6

Favalli

43

29

6

8

Stam

42

29

6

7

Top Goal Scorers

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

Fiore

16

8

6

2

Corradi

12

10

1

1

Inzaghi

10

6

1

3

Cesar

8

6

1

1


Let’s talk about Fabio Liverani


Fabio Liverani was a splendid play maker. With a physique more like Jan Molby than Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, and not being very quick, his ability with the ball was however exceptional.


Born in Rome on April 29 1976, he started his youth career in Rome with Lodigiani before moving to Palermo, Napoli and Cagliari. His professional debut came with Nocerina in 1996 but he soon moved to Viterbo in Serie C. With Viterbese he played until 2000 when he was discovered by Perugia.


With Perugia he proved to be one of the best midfielders of the Serie A and was also called up for the Nazionale.


Lazio bought him in 2001 and he played five years with the Biancocelesti. He was in the post scudetto squad but also in the squad in the early Claudio Lotito era. He was part of that extremely high potential team that despite not bringing home the goods in Campionato, was able to win the Coppa Italia in 2004. He was also a key member of the squad once all the star players had left in the early years of Lotito and his memorable pass in the January 6 2005 derby led Paolo Di Canio scoring against Roma at that same end 16 years after his memorable goal of 1989. In his last year with Lazio he helped the Biancocelesti reach the UEFA Cup qualification (which never materialised due to the Calciopoli scandal).


At the end of his contract he decided not to renew and signed up for Fiorentina as a free agent. He stayed in Florence for two years before moving to Palermo in 2008 where he stayed for three years. A number of injuries and a few difficulties with Palermo President Maurizio Zamparini translated into a troubled last year. In 2011 he moved to Lugano in Switzerland but he never played and decided to quit in November to become manager.


His career as head trainer has been moderately successful but slightly unlucky. He started as one of the youth trainers for Genoa and worked his way up to the first team in June 2013. He was sacked in September. In December 2014 he was called up by Leyton Orient in the English League One but left the club after relegation in 2015. After two years of inactivity, in March 2017 he was called up by Ternana who were bottom in Serie B. He led them to safety but then was not confirmed. In September he moved to Lecce in Serie C and in two years took them up to Serie A. They were relegated in 2019-20 and he decided to move on.


He signed a two-year contract with Parma in 2020, but the club was in a limbo due to an ownership changeover, and he was sacked in early 2021.


He is currently manager at Cagliari in Serie B.


Fabio Liverani played 165 games for Lazio (126 in Serie A, 17 in Coppa Italia, 6 in Champions League, 11 in Uefa Cup, 4 in the Intertoto Cup and one in the Super Coppa) and scored ten goals (6 in Serie A, 2 in Coppa Italia and 2 in the Uefa Cup).


In Nazionale he played three times, with a five-year gap between his second and third cap.


Lazio Career

Season

Total games (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

UEFA Cup

Intertoto

Super Coppa

2001-02

27 (2)

26 (2)

1

-

-

-

-

2002-03

34

21

5

-

8

-

-

2003-04

39 (4)

26 (2)

7 (4)

6

-

-

-

2004-05

30 (3)

24 (1)

2

-

3 (2)

-

1

2005-06

35 (1)

29 (1)

2

-

-

4

-

Total

165 (10)

126 (6)

17 (2)

6

11 (2)

4

1

Sources


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