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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Mancio shines on debut

Updated: Feb 7

Game 1, Serie A

Sunday, August 31, 1997

Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Lazio Napoli 2-0

Goals by Mancini and Pancaro break down Napoli's "catenaccio" and give Lazio positive start

Source Wikipedia

A hot end of August day still managed to attract a solid 55,000 crowd to the Olimpico.

There was a certain buzz in the air for Roberto Mancini's debut, after having delighted Sampdoria fans for fifteen years now it was Lazio fans’ turn. He would not disappoint.

From the word go it was more an exercise of attack against defence, with Napoli defending the fort. In the first ten minutes Lazio almost scored three times, all with one player. A clever Mancini lob was cleared off the line by Roberto Ayala, then he had an acrobatic volley saved and then his diving header shaved the post. Lazio fans were already won over.

In the 14th minute Napoli crossed the halfway line and Claudio Bellucci's powerful low drive went just wide of the post. It would be Napoli's one and only chance of the afternoon.

Then it was all Lazio again. Lazio had total control of midfield, especially thanks to a dominant Matías Almeyda who seemed three players in one. Beppe Signori and Alen Boksic had chances but Taglialatela was on guard. Towards the end of the half a fortuitous elbow by Boksic forced Prunier off and he was replaced by Sbrizzo. Halftime Lazio 0 Napoli 0.

One way traffic so far, although the really clear chances had decreased as the half went on, but there was still the sensation that a Lazio goal was only a matter of time.

For the second half Eriksson replaced an off form Signori with a more physically threatening forward, Gigi Casiraghi.

The chances continued coming. A Giuseppe Favalli cross was headed under the crossbar by Casiraghi but Taglialatela showed feline reflexes and tipped it over for a corner.

In the 67th minute Lazio had a penalty appeal for a handball on a Diego Fuser cross. From the consequent corner, however, Lazio finally scored. On Fuser's delivery from the flag Mancini anticipated Napoli's hesitant defenders towards the front post and headed past Taglialatela. Lazio 1 Napoli 0 and nothing less than deserved. It was too late in the game to win the yearly 200 bottles of Montepulciano wine for the first goal of the season but was still very welcome.

Lazio having broken through then doubled their lead. In the 76th minute a free kick from just outside the box was hammered in by Beppe Pancaro (on his 100th game in Serie A) with a cracking medium height left-footed strike. Lazio 2 Napoli 0.

Napoli at this point did go forward slightly more but Luca Marchegiani could still have sold his gloves as brand new. In fact, it was Lazio who could have scored again. In injury time a foul on Pavel Nedved was punished with a penalty. Casiraghi stepped up but his low strike was saved and held by specialist Taglialatela, who dived to his right and limited the damage. Final score Lazio 2 Napoli 0.

A well deserved win on their debut for Lazio. A promising start to the season with excellent indications from Mancini and more surprisingly Matías Almeyda, who was here, there and everywhere in midfield.

Napoli had a lot of work to do, especially up front where they were practically non-existent.

Who played for Lazio

Substitutes: Ballotta, Negro, Grandoni

Manager: Eriksson

Who played for Napoli

Taglialatela, Ayala, Baldini, Prunier (43' Sbrizzo), Sergio, Crasson, Goretti (73' Scarlato), Rossitto, Longo, Protti, Bellucci (89' M.Esposito)

Substitutes: Di Fusco, Facci, Altomare, Panarelli

Manager: Mutti

Referee: Braschi

Goals: 68' Mancini, 76' Pancaro



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