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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

February 22, 1976: Lazio Perugia 1-0

Penalty win


A Chinaglia penalty gives Lazio a vital win




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. While he was there 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 were 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 two 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 then 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 Lazio 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 clashed, the old Lazio guard was with their leader and all hell broke loose. Long John scored Lazio’s equaliser and that night flew to the US. The next Sunday Lazio lost and Corsini was sacked. Lazio 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 Frustalupi 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.


After the first two games of the second half of the season the situation had not changed. A win today would be vital.


The match: Sunday, February 22, 1976, Stadio Olimpico, Rome


Lazio in great difficulty were well aware that this was a match that they had to win. Giorgio Chinaglia had stated that he was going to score and he did everything humanly possible to do so. After five minutes he whacked a missile on a free kick but Roberto Marconcini parried and Ammoniaci missed the simple tap in. He then tried to help Renzo Garlaschelli score but to no avail. The Biancocelesti however were too generous and keen to go forward thus opening terrible gaps in midfield where Francesco Brignani and Toto Lopez had to help a defence which, if it were not for Pino Wilson, gave the feeling that they could capitulate at any moment.


But in the 31st minute came the game changer. Garlaschelli was fouled in the box by Pierluigi Frosio after a good assist from Chinaglia and the referee, Gino Menicucci, who six years later would become (in)famous for the Lazio supporters, perhaps too generously, indicated that it was a penalty. Chinaglia whacked the spot kick centrally giving Lazio the lead.


The Biancocelesti could have scored a second a few minutes later. Chinaglia sent a great cross into the box but neither Garlaschelli nor Vincenzo D’Amico could capitalise the chance. Towards the end of the first half, Walter Novellino crossed into the Lazio area, Brignani missed the ball completely, it arrived to Scarpa who dangerously stretched his leg out and beat Felice Pulici. The referee disallowed it.


In the second half Perugia had a couple of chances to score but Pulici managed to save a Renato Curi header and then the crossbar saved Lazio on an Aldo Agroppi shot.


A fundamental win for the Biancocelesti, there was light at the end of the tunnel now.


Who played for Lazio


Substitutes: Moriggi, G. C. Ferrari

Manager: Maestrelli


Who played for Perugia


Marconcini R., Raffaeli, Baiardo, Frosio, Berni, Agroppi, Scarpa M., Curi, Novellino, Vannini, Sollier (69' Pellizzaro S.)

Substitutes: Malizia, Amenta

Manager: Castagner

 

Referee: Menicucci

 

Goal: 31’ Chinaglia (pen)



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  Serie A leaders. 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. He left that evening to join New York Cosmos. His last goal had been 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 them, scored four goals and 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 then Giordano 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 managed to equalise and the Biancocelesti managed to bring back the necessary point that allowed them to reach  safety. 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 Lazio 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 Francesco Brignani


Francesco Brignani is first from left kneeling. Source Wikipedia

Francesco Brignani was born on March 24, 1948 in Drizzona, near Cremona. He started his footballing career in the Inter youth teams but never made it to the top squad. He played his first professional season with Padova in Serie B in 1968-69 but the team was relegated to the third tier. He stayed in Serie B and for two years played for Varese, the first of which saw the club promoted to Serie A. He debuted in the top tier on October 11 at Cagliari. Varese managed to avoid relegation but he was then sold to Cesena in Serie B.


In 1973 Cesena were promoted to Serie A for the first time in their history and he contributed to their stay in the top tier for the next two years. In the summer of 1975, he joined Lazio with Paolo Ammoniaci in the deal that saw Mario Frustalupi and Giancarlo Oddi move to  Romagna. He was personally chosen by the new manager Giulio Corsini who wanted to revolutionise the Lazio squad that had won the scudetto. Things didn't work out for Corsini, sacked after seven games, or for Brignani who made just 11 appearances. The Biancocelesti managed to avoid relegation in the last game, but he did not leave much of a mark.


In 1976 he moved south and started playing for Palermo. He stayed for four years in Sicily, all in Serie B. He was part of the team that surprisingly reached the final of the Coppa Italia in 1979, controversially lost to Juventus in extra time.


His last three years of active football were played in Serie C with Novara, Siracusa and Spezia.


Once he stopped playing he became a manager, starting in 1987 with Ravenna. After a season as head coach of Trento, he managed Catanzaro for a few games in 1991.


He died on August 27, 1993 in Cervia at the age of 45. He had a heart attack while he was jogging.


Lazio Career

Season

Total appearances

Serie A

Coppa Italia

UEFA Cup

1975-76

20

11

6

3

Source







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