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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Lazio are winners … finally!!

Updated: Feb 7

Coppa Italia, Final, Second Leg

Wednesday, April 29, 1998


Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Lazio Milan 3-1


From the Scudetto of 1974 there had been Tommaso Maestrelli's illness and death, Luciano Re Cecconi's tragic end, the 1980 betting scandal and subsequent relegation punishment, the Giorgio Chinaglia President era of shattered dreams, six years in total of Serie B playing teams like Campobasso, Barletta, Rimini, the minus 9 point deduction and playout to avoid the third tier, oblivion or worse, city rivals winning things and playing a European Cup Final (fortunately lost). Then in the 90's things had got gradually better for the long suffering Lazio fan and now finally was time to celebrate.. Lazio had won!!


Source Wikipedia

Milan had a slight advantage but Lazio had already proved they were just as good as Milan, if not better. There was also an underlying feeling among Lazio fans that this was our time, our moment to win.


A great crowd of 70,000 (7,000 Milanisti too) and a marvellous atmosphere welcomed the two teams onto the field. Lazio were without Matias Almeyda, Beppe Pancaro, José Chamot and Alen Boksic while Milan were missing Leonardo and Zvonimir Boban. Lazio played with Roberto Mancini and Gigi Casiraghi up front while Milan answered with Dejan Savicevic and George Weah.


The first half started at a slow pace. Milan were satisfied with their lead and Lazio weary of conceding an away goal. Lazio however attacked more and had a first chance with Pavel Nedved. On a cross from Diego Fuser, the Czech brought the ball down well and from an angle was one-on-one with the keeper but pushed it just too far allowing Rossi to anticipate him. Lazio's next chance was clearer when Casiraghi chested down a Vladimir Jugovic cross and again from an angle got a low shot which Rossi saved with the help of the post. Milan were kept under control especially by Alessandro Nesta, in fine form, the "Diavolo's" only chance came on a Weah close range shot on a Ibrahim Ba low cross but he was slightly too far forward and, challenged by two defenders, his effort went high. On the half hour mark Savicevic went off injured and was replaced by Kluivert. Halftime score Lazio 0 Milan 0. A first 45 minutes which satisfied the visitors far more than the hosts.


The second half started with a bang. In the first minute Demetrio Albertini was fouled by Alessandro Grandoni at the edge of the box for a free kick. The Milan midfielder took it and his low, powerful shot went through the wall and beat Luca Marchegiani to his right. Lazio 0 Milan 1. The Rossoneri were two up on aggregate and now Lazio needed three unanswered goals to lift the cup. Milan became even more defensive in the 50th minute and replaced an injured Kluivert with a midfielder, Giampiero Maini. For Lazio Guerino Gottardi came on for Grandoni, a seemingly small detail at the time but which would soon prove crucial.


The Lazio crowd still believed, urging their team forward and the Biancocelesti threw caution to the wind and attacked furiously. They were soon rewarded. In the 55th minute a long ball by Giorgio Venturin found Mancini with space in the area, "Mancio" domesticated the ball perfectly and slid it across to an unmarked Gottardi who beat Rossi. 1-1 and the stadium became a cauldron, a crazy comeback could still be possible.

Official SS Lazio photo

Only three minutes later Gottardi, on a Mancini assist, was clumsily kicked in the air by Paolo Maldini. The foul started on the edge of the box but the dynamic of the move made Guerino go sprawling several metres into the area. For the referee Treossi it was a penalty. Jugovic stepped up and with a fierce low shot sent Rossi the wrong way. Lazio 2 Milan 1. The Stadium was on fire and Milan were groggy. Lazio still needed one more but there was still half an hour to go.


Official SS Lazio photo

A few minutes later Casiraghi went agonizingly close hitting the post with only the keeper to beat. In the 65th minute Lazio had a corner, the ball was not cleared properly and fell to Negro whose shot was saved but not blocked by Rossi and Nesta was the quickest to slot the ball in for the 3-1. The stadium passed the safety test and didn't collapse despite the wild scenes which followed the captain's goal. Lazio now had 25 minutes to defend their dream.


Official SS Lazio photo

At this point Milan had to attack and threw striker Maurizio Ganz on for Ba. One goal would be enough for the Rossoneri to snatch the trophy. They had a Christian Ziege freekick saved by Marchegiani and endless crosses into the area but Lazio, despite the fans obviously holding their breath every time the ball even went over the halfway line, held firm and kept Milan at bay.

Ten minutes from time both Fuser and Marcel Desailly were sent off for squabbling and kicking but tactically nothing changed. It was Lazio who came closer to scoring. After a perfect counterattack Jugovic incredibly did not find the net with a seemingly impossible to miss close range header. Lazio's fears were only delayed a fraction longer as Treossi soon after blew the final whistle. Lazio had won a trophy after 24 years!


Collective hugs with friends, family and strangers followed, along with tears of incredulity and joy flowing around the stadium. Our Lazio were victorious, for many a new and fantastic sensation.


Fuser lifted the cup in a dreamlike atmosphere. Lazio were winners and this was just the beginning.


Who played for Lazio


Substitutes: Ballotta, Rambaudi

Manager: Eriksson


Who played for Milan


Rossi, Daino, Desailly, Costacurta, Maldini, Ba (67' Ganz), Albertini, Donadoni, Ziege, Savicevic (31' Kluivert, 50' Maini), Weah

Substitutes: Taibi, Cruz, Cardone, Maniero

Manager: Capello


Referee: Treossi


Goals: 46' Albertini, 55' Gottardi, 58' Jugovic (pen), 65' Nesta


Sources


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