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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

December 15, 1968: Cesena Lazio 0-4

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

Lazio's late goal scoring spree crushes Cesena and sends them top


By far a perfect performance by the Biancocelesti but the result says 4-0. A second half surge puts Lazio top of the table. The Serie A dream is on.


Legend of the day: Bob Lovati




The season so far


The 1967-68 season had seen Lazio come in 11th in Serie B. The manager Renato Gei had been replaced by former goalkeeper Roberto Lovati in February. They had a good home record but didn't win even once away and had the least prolific attack of the league.


This year Argentine Juan Carlos Lorenzo was in charge but as he wasn't in possession of the suitable documentation (Italian passport), he was officially called D.T (Technical Director) and on match days it was Bob Lovati who sat on the bench. The main changes to the squad were the arrival of defenders Mario Facco (Inter) and Guido Onor (Juventus), midfielder Ferruccio Mazzola (Inter) and striker Gian Piero Ghio (Avellino). Leaving Lazio were goalkeeper Idilio Cei (Palermo), defenders Pierluigi Ronzon (retiring) and Alberto Mori (Sambenedettese).


Lazio were considered one of the favourites for promotion but the start had been slightly hesitant with 4 wins, 4 draws and 2 losses (Livorno and Ternana, both away). They had 12 points, 2 behind leaders Genoa.


Cesena the previous season had won promotion to Serie B with first place in the B group of Serie C. The promotion manager, Cesare Meucci, had been confirmed but after 10 games they were struggling on 7 points.


The match. Sunday, December 15, 1968, Cesena, Stadio La Fiorita


A freezing cold day, threatening snow and a heavy, muddy pitch welcomed Lazio in Cesena.


The first half was almost as depressing as the weather. The few chances worthy of note were: an excellent move by Ferruccio Mazzola who skipped past three defenders but saw his shot blocked by defender Alberto Giacomin, a free kick again by Mazzola punched away by goalkeeper Paolo Cimpiel and for Cesena two hopeful shots from outside the area which went wide of keeper Rosario Di Vincenzo's posts.


The second half didn't seem to promise anything much better. After the first 20 minutes the only half chance had been a shot by Giampiero Ceccarelli for the hosts. It all changed in the 68th minute when Lazio somewhat out of the blue took the lead. A cross by Piero Cucchi was not cleared properly by Cimpiel and Giuseppe Massa was on hand to pounce and put Lazio ahead.


Cesena didn't manage to change gear and could only muster a long-range attempt by Ceccarelli. Lazio soon doubled their lead again with the complicity of Cimpiel. Massa did well to get past two defenders but his subsequent shot was far from unstoppable and the keeper should have done better.


At this point Lazio were in the driving seat and totally in control. They had another opportunity with Carlo Soldo before, with only 5 minutes left on the clock, Giuliano Fortunato made it 3-0. There was no luck involved however, with Fortunato fending off a defender and scoring with a powerful right-footed strike. Cesena were finished and gave away another goal in the dying seconds when Elio Rinero decided to go solo and, after an end to end burst, slotted the ball past hapless Cimpiel.


A big away win for Lazio even if the score line was flattering, considering the first 65 minutes. The Roman Biancocelesti went top of the table thanks to Spal defeating Genoa. On their return from Romagna, Lazio were welcomed back to Rome train station by hundreds of festive fans waving flags and champagne. Things were looking up.


Who played for Cesena


Cimpiel, Giacomin, Ceccarelli, V. Zanetti, Spimi, Leoni, Corradi, Bertani, Di Giacomo, Capecchi, Stacchini

Substitutes: Zanier, Nimis

Manager: Meucci


Who played for Lazio


Substitutes: Fioravanti, Governato

DT: Lorenzo

Manager: Lovati


Referee: Giunti


Goals: 68' Massa, 74' Massa, 85' Fortunato, 90' Rinero


What happened next


Lazio confirmed their ambitions and won promotion back to Serie A with 17 victories, 16 draws and 5 defeats. They topped the league with 50 points ahead of Brescia and Bari. From February 23 to June 22 they only lost once. Their top scorer would be Ghio with 10 goals but another 12 players would also find the net at least once and Lazio finished with the best attack with 55 goals.


All in all, a triumphant return to Serie A for the historic first team of the Italian capital.


Cesena meanwhile continued to have difficulty adapting to a higher level of football in Serie B. They would also lose the return match against Lazio in Rome 2-0 (Facco and Fortunato) but a crucial 1-0 home win against Spal on June 1 gave them the cushion to keep the bottom three at bay, ending up 16th on 34 points. Their top striker would be Sidio Corradi with 7 goals.


So Cesena despite a problematic season, with a fair dose of struggle and fight, managed to achieve the objective of survival in their first year back in Serie B. The 3 unfortunate ones to head down were Padova, Lecco and Spal (Ferrara).


Lazio 1968-69

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals scored

Serie B

38

17

16

5

55

Coppa Italia

3

-

2

1

2

Total

41

17

18

5

57

Top Five Appearances

Player

Total

Serie B

Coppa Italia

Ghio

40

37

3

Mazzola

40

37

3

Soldo

39

36

3

Marchesi

38

38

-

Fortunato

37

35

-2

Top Five Goal Scorers

Player

Total

Serie B

Coppa Italia

Ghio

11

10

1

Mazzola

8

8

-

Fortunato

8

8

-

Massa

7

6

1

Morrone

6

6

-

Let's talk about Roberto Lovati


Official SS Lazio photo

Roberto Lovati, affectionately known as “Bob”, was born in Cusano Milanino on July 20, 1927. Although originally from the region of Lombardy, Lovati became a legend at Lazio, first as a player, then as a manager and then technical director plus various other jobs, just as long it was for Lazio.


His professional debut came for Pisa in Serie B in 1949. He played 59 games in Tuscany and in 1954 was bought by Lazio who however then loaned him to Torino for a year (he made 33 appearances). In 1955 he returned to Lazio and this time it was to stay. So his playing career at Lazio started in 1955 and he was captain when Lazio won the Italian Cup in 1958, their first historic silverware. He played for the Biancocelesti for six years making 146 appearances (135 in Serie A and 11 in Coppa Italia). He also earned two Italian caps (one unfortunately a 6-1 defeat against the mighty Yugoslavia).


After retiring he went on to coach the goalkeepers but in October 1962, when Carlo Facchin was sacked, Lovati became head coach and was the one who sat on the bench on Sundays. The real manager was Juan Carlos Lorenzo but because he was not Italian, he could not officially be manager or be on the sidelines on match day. Lovati from 1962 to 1967 coached the Lazio youth teams, but was also assistant to the two managers (Umberto Mannocci and Maino Neri) in the 1966-67 season. In February 1968 he took the place of sacked manager Renato Gei, and for the following three seasons he assisted Lorenzo again. In the summer of 1971, after Lorenzo had been sacked and before the arrival of Tommaso Maestrelli, he managed the team that won the Cup of the Alps.


He had a splendid relationship with Maestrelli and was his assistant for all the time the Maestro was manager. Lovati was part of that splendid dream team that won the 1973-74 scudetto.


He came in as manager when Luis Vinicio was sacked in 1978 and stayed until the end of the 1979-80 season. He led Lazio as manager for 106 games. In later life he also worked as a talent scout and as a director, always obviously for Lazio.


He died in Rome on March 30, 2011 at 84.


At Lazio they often joke that Bob did every job under the sun for the club except maybe gardener, and only because he was not asked. He certainly achieved cult status at Lazio and the Academy bears his name.


Appearances for Lazio

Season

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Italo-French Friendship Cup

1955-56

32

32

-

-

1956-57

34

34

-

-

1957-58

30

26

4

-

1958-59

30

26

4

-

1959-60

11

9

2

1

1960-61

9

8

1

-

Total

147

135

11

1

Sources



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