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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

A celebration to last throughout the years

Updated: 5 days ago

2022-23 season

Game 37

May 28 2023

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Stadio Olimpico Rome

Lazio Cremonese 3-2

Lazio self inflict a dramatic game on themselves but ultimately win on a day of celebrations for the tenth anniversary of May 26 and Radu’s last match at the Olimpico

SS Lazio official photo

May 26 tenth anniversary celebrations

Before the match a number of players who were on the pitch and bench on the famous May 26 2013 Coppa Italia derby final were presented and had a lap of honour with the cup. Those present were Federico Marchetti, Albano Bizzari, Hernanes, Stefano Mauri, Antonio Candreva, Miro Klose, Abdoulay Konko, Christian Brocchi, Giuseppe Biava, Cristian Ledesma, Sergio Floccari, Luca Crecco, Libor Kozak, Lorik Cana, Antonio Manicone (assistant to Vladimir Petković) and obviously Senad Lulic. Stefan Radu also joined his former teammates. Loud cheers for everybody!!!

A special jersey was made by Mizuno and sold out almost immediately . The players will be wearing it for this match.

SS Lazio official photo

The team

Maurizio Sarri leaves Felipe Anderson on the bench and Pedro starts the game from the beginning. Adam Marusic had surgery during the week and his season is over, so Manuel Lazzari is the right back. Theoretically Lazio are already in the Champions League following Juventus’ 10 point docking during the week for administrative irregularities. But you never know, so it is important to win to keep second place and mathematically reach the European top tier regardless of point deductions.

The Olimpico is absolutely packed, all tickets were sold, 64,000 fans. Many have come for the May 26 celebrations, many for the match, but all have come to say goodbye to Stefan Radu in his last home game before retiring.

The match

Lazio score immediately. In the 4th minute, Luis Alberto sends a great ball to Ciro Immobile who immediately passes to Elseid Hysaj in the box. The Albanian, face to face with Cremonese goalkeeper Mouhamadou Sarr, beats him with a low shot on the far post. 1-0 for Lazio and first goal of the season for Hysaj.

At this point Lazio switch off for a while with the exception of a Matias Vecino shot from outside the box in the 16th minute, safely saved by Sarr. Cremonese gain confidence and start attacking. In the 23rd minute big chance for an equaliser. Matteo Bianchetti sends a great ball into the box for Frank Tsadjout, who shoots. Just wide.

The Biancocelesti wake up and Alessio Romagnoli from a corner in the 29th minute manages to get a header in but it is too central and a few minutes later a Luis Alberto curler is safely parried by the Cremonese goalkeeper.

In the 36th minute Pedro goes off on the right wing and crosses low, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic anticipates the Cremonese defenders and chips the ball into the goal. 2-0 for Lazio.

Second half

Lazio mentally stay in the changing rooms for most of the second half. In the 54th minute, Emanuele Valeri crosses into the Lazio box, Lazzari blocks, Tsadjout gets to the ball before Milinkovic-Savic and passes back to Valeri. The Cremonese left back sees Pablo Galdames in a perfect position outside the box on the left, ball to the Chilean, great shot, with a slight deflection, and the Lombards reduce the deficit. Not content with having let Cremonese back into the game, the Biancocelesti make things worse. In the 57th minute cross into the box by Leonardo Cernicola, Daniel Ciofani cannot make contact, Lazzari, all alone, heads the ball back to Ivan Provedel but it's too far from the goalkeeper, hits the post and goes in. Silence in the stadium. Bewilderment, even the commentator for Lazio Style Channel is lost for words. Lazio 2 Cremonese 2.

Sarri tries to come to Lazio’s rescue and in comes Felipe Anderson for Pedro in the 60th minute. Cremonese take off Ciofani for Cristian Buonaiuto.

Five minutes later Felipetto from outside the box gives the ball a massive whack that is brilliantly saved by Sarr. In the 71st, magnificent long pass from Milinkovic-Savic to Immobile but King Ciro sends the ball over the crossbar. Lazio are back in the game even if there is a considerable dose of chaos. In the 75th minute Mattia Zaccagni in the box crosses for Milinkovic-Savic. The big Serb’s header beats Sarr but Alex Ferrari with a spectacular back heel on the line manages to clear. In the 80th minute Luca Pellegrini replaces Hysaj to have even more possibility of crosses from the left wing.

Cremonese almost make it three in the 82nd minute as Tsadjout shoots from outside the box but Provedel saves and Charles Pickel sends the rebound high from a difficult position.

In the 89th minute, corner for Lazio. Luis Alberto crosses a beautiful curling ball that nobody manages to make contact with on the front post, goalkeeper included. The ball is going into the goal but Johan Vasquez manages to keep it out with an arm, on the line Milinkovic-Savic nods in an easy header, 3-2 for Lazio.

Sarri at this point sends in Toma Basic for Luis Alberto and allows Radu his final 5 minutes of active football at the Olimpico. The Romanian substitutes Zaccagni and Immobile gives him the captain’s armband.

Nothing happens in the five minutes of injury time with the exception of Sarri getting sent off for dissent.

Lazio win and are now in Champions League whatever happens, they are in second place, hence guaranteed a place in the new Supercoppa formula (open now to four teams – scudetto winner and runner up, Coppa Italia winner and finalist). Inter won the Coppa Italia and are third in the league so even if they overtake Lazio the Biancocelesti are still in the new format.

There is still one more game to win at Empoli to be sure of second place.

Lazio made it a lot more complicated for themselves. A match is not over until the referee whistles the end. They blanked out and allowed Cremonese to equalise. Moreover, as correctly pointed out by my wife in one of the rare times she came to the stadium, there was too much insistence on playing on the left wing due to the fact that Vecino is not a playmaker and hence the ball was often given to Luis Alberto. But neither the Spaniard nor Zaccagni are in great form so things were made even more complicated.

But, all’s well that ends well.

SS Lazio official photo

Radu says goodbye

At the end of the match, Lazio’s 2013 players and the current squad stood in the centre of the pitch and Radu said goodbye to the fans.

“Lazio fans, thank you all for being present on this very important day for me. I have spent more than 15 years at your side. I say "by your side" because on the pitch, when I entered, I had the same soul as you: the soul of the Lazio fan. With this shirt I lived my life as a footballer, in this stadium I experienced unique moments, difficult days and immense joys, like all of you. Lazio are a family and this pitch is like home for me. I thank you because in victory but also in defeat, I never felt alone. On this journey we have always walked together. I am sure that my attachment to the Biancocelesti colours will never end. It will give me the strength to carry on in life with the same determination I've always had on the pitch. I sincerely thank President Lotito and the club because they allowed me to make this great dream come true: being able to say goodbye to football wearing this jersey. You took me in when I was little more than a boy. Here I grew up as a man and as a footballer. I thank my wife Alexandra and my sons Edoardo and Alessia, because I have never felt the absence of their support and their love. Thanks to all my teammates and technical staff over the years who allowed me to have an important role on the pitch and in the changing room. And this for me represents a great honour, even before being a great responsibility. When I wore the Biancoceleste jersey I did it with all my heart and passion. Now I know what it's like to be one of you. I know what it means to belong to the great Lazio family. And bonded with it forever. You can stop playing football but you can't stop being a Lazio fan! Thank you all, your Boss loves you”.

Stefan Radu, 427 appearances (349 in Serie A, 25 in Coppa Italia, 3 in Champions League, 46 in Europa League and four Super Coppa Finals), 8 goals (5 in Serie A, 2 in Coppa Italia and one in Europa League) and six trophies (Coppa Italia 2008-09, 2012-13 and 2018-19, Super Coppa 2009, 2017 and 2019). The player with the most appearances in Lazio history.

Thank you Stefan.

Who played for Lazio

Provedel, Lazzari, Casale, Romagnoli, Hysaj (80' Pellegrini), Milinkovic-Savic, Vecino, Luis Alberto (90' Basic), Pedro (60' Felipe Anderson), Immobile, Zaccagni (90' Radu).

Substitutes: Maximiano, Adamonis, Patric, Gila, Ruggeri, Marcos Antonio, Bertini, Cancellieri, Gonzalez.

Manager: Sarri

Who played for Cremonese

Sarr, Bianchetti, Ferrari, Lochoshvili (77' Vasquez), Sernicola, Pickel, Meité, Valeri (68' Quagliata), Galdames (68' Castagnetti), Ciofani (59' Bonaiuto), Tsadjout.

Substitutes: Carnesecchi, Saro, Aiwu, Ghiglione, Afena-Gyan, Chiriches, Acella, Okereke.

Manager: Ballardini

Referee: Giua

Goals: 4’ Hysaj, 37’ Milinkovic-Savic, 54` Galdames, 58` Lazzari (og), 89' Milinkovic-Savic

Bookings: Sernicola, Galdames, Zaccagni, Pellegrini

SS Lazio official photo


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