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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Lazio celebrate centenary in perfect style

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

1999-00 Season

Game 16, Serie A

Sunday, January 9, 2000

Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Lazio Bologna 3-1

A great victory to celebrate Lazio's 100 years. Far from easy and not without tense moments but knowing Lazio it could not have been any other way.

Today was no ordinary date and match for Lazio. It was the 9th of January 2000. It was S.S Lazio's 100th anniversary. The first and oldest club in Rome was celebrating its centenary.

The commemorations and celebrations had started at midnight and continued until shortly before kick-off and there were to be more to follow. A 15,000 strong parade had walked to the stadium from the square where Lazio was founded (Piazza della libertà). Nearby the Olimpico, in the adjacent Stadio dei Marmi, there had been a parachute display by Lazio's parachute jumping team. The 80 sections of the Lazio sports club also paraded around the track. Lazio is the biggest sports club in Europe with over 10,000 athletes competing in all the various sports teams.

Today Lazio for the first time were wearing their centenary kit, tailored especially for the occasion. There was therefore great excitement and expectation for this Lazio-Bologna clash, but also added pressure and tension. The stadium was packed with a sell out crowd of 76,000 on a cold, cloudy day.

With a win Lazio could honour their history but also go top of the table as Juventus had only drawn at Parma in the earlier lunch time game.

In the early phases of the game Lazio seemed, perhaps understandably, somewhat overwhelmed by the occasion and Bologna were the more confident and threatening. The first chance fell to Beppe Signori, teed up by former Roma defender Pierre Wome, but his left footed strike came back off the crossbar (maybe even the gods thought it too cruel if he of all people should open the scoreline today).

In the 22nd minute Bologna's manager Francesco Guidolin was sent off for going over the top in his protests as Lazio gradually grew into the game.

Lazio's first opportunity came with a Pavel Nedved shot just over the bar followed in the 23rd minute by a Sinisa Mihajlovic freekick which was saved well by Gianluca Pagliuca. In the 27th minute Lazio had a colossal chance to take the lead when Sergio Conceição was fouled in the area for a penalty. Mihajlovic stepped up to take it but slipped just as he struck the ball and it flew high over the bar.

The game continued to be evenly balanced and Bologna's Ingesson, Gian Carlo Marocchi and Wome held their own in midfield. Signori had a shot saved by Luca Marchegiani but the deadlock was broken just before halftime. In the 42nd minute it was again Nedved who threatened. His powerful strike came off the crossbar and fell perfectly for Marcelo Salas "El Matador'' to nod in the easiest of headers. A difficult and tense first 45 minutes but Lazio 1 Bologna 0.

The second half got underway with the teams unchanged. Bologna immediately surged forward looking for the equaliser and they were soon rewarded. Two former Lazio players combined well with a perfect cross by Signori headed in by Kennet Andersson for 1-1.

From that point on it was all Lazio. They attacked constantly and ferociously, determined to celebrate history in style. Things were not looking good though as Salas limped off injured and Roberto Mancini wasted a huge goal scoring chance, with only the keeper to beat he was undecided between a lob and a low strike and, as is often the case when in two minds, ended up doing neither.

Everything changed with 15 minutes to go. Sergio Conceição put in a cross from the right and Nedved rose above the Bologna defenders and put a crashing header past Pagliuca for 2-1. Wild celebrations and Lazio were ahead on their special day. Bologna were weary, Lazio galvanized and things seemed under control. Lazio’s history however should have taught us that there's always another twist in the story and more doses of suffering.

With seven minutes remaining Nedved got a second yellow card and was sent off and, with Nestor Sensini limping and all the replacements having been made, Lazio were in trouble. Sensini battled on but Lazio practically had to resist the last minutes plus injury time in 9 men.

Bologna pushed Lazio back but without creating any real chances just understandable anxiety and tension everytime they attacked.

In the 90th minute Bologna were reduced to 10 men when defender Michele Paramatti received a red card. A psychological boost to Lazio who felt the win getting closer. In the 94th minute the party could finally and definitely get under way. Fabrizio Ravanelli entered the area and while preparing a shot stumbled but still made contact with the ball. What came out was a shot which caught Pagliuca off guard and slowly trickled into the net, 3-1 and game over. Ravanelli's subsequent tears and him getting down on his knees in front of the fans (apparently for his ailing father) made it even more emotional.

Lazio went top of the table and made sure an already memorable day was a perfect one. The night was young and a whole evening of organized celebrations awaited the Lazio faithful inside the Olimpico.

The evening that followed was in essence what being Laziale is all about; style, sportsmanship, passion, romance and class. There was nothing overboard, exaggerated or tacky about it. There were of course speeches, goals on the megascreens, songs and chants but there was a celebration of history. The founders were remembered and the images of all the greats in Lazio's history were displayed on banners by the crowd. Players of the past and present were driven around the track in vintage cars for a lap of honour accompanied by Louis Amstrong's ' What a Wonderful World' soundtrack. There were some theatrical reenactments of moments connected with Lazio's origins and history with some harmless digs at city rivals Roma. There were more parachute jumps and fireworks plus endless singing by the fans. There was even a football match between the 1974 scudetto heroes and a mixed all stars team. On one side Felice Pulici, Vincenzo D’Amico, Renzo Garlaschelli, Giorgio Chinaglia and others against Gabriele Podavini, Giuliano Fiorini and Fabio Poli and many others. A wonderful day and night to celebrate a century of "Lazialità".

Who played for Lazio

Substitutes: Ballotta, Negro, Gottardi, Lombardo

Manager: Eriksson

Who played for Bologna

Pagliuca, Paramatti, Gamberini, Boselli, M. Tarantino, Nervo (81' Zé Elias), Ingesson, Marocchi (81' Kolyvanov), Wome, K.Andersson, Signori

Substitutes: Roccati, Fontolan, Mensah, Foschini, Falcone

Manager: Guidolin

Referee: Racalbuto

Goals: 42' Salas, 51' K.Andersson, 76' Nedved, 90'+4 Ravanelli



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