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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Playoff for first ever single Serie A ends in draw so rematch needed

Game 29, National Division, 8th place Playoff

Sunday, June 23, 1929

Stadio San Siro, Milan

Lazio Napoli 2-2

A 2-2 draw meant they had to play again but more surprises were on the way

Source SS Lazio Museum

The 1929-30 season the following year would be the first single national championship but only the top 8 teams from each of this year's two groups would qualify. Lazio had finished the season in joint eighth position with Napoli so today was a playoff. In modern times Lazio would have qualified for having won and drawn the direct clashes (2-1, 0-0) or for having a better goal difference (+8 to -3) but this was 1929...

So it was all down to this final match in San Siro, Milan. It was the second match between the two teams in a week as on June 16 they had drawn 0-0 in Rome, in the last game of the season.

Both sides had support, as many fans had made the trips from Rome and Naples plus many Neapolitans lived and worked in the Lombard capital. The Napoli fans were more but the Lazio fans had an enormous banner with "FORZA LAZIO" up for the whole match.

In the early stages Napoli seemed fresher and livelier. They had been recharging their batteries in nearby Varese, the Garden City, for the past five days and the idea appeared to have worked.

As predictable, it was an extremely tense and hard fought game. Napoli were on top in the first half and controlled the midfield. Lazio defended deep but were very sharp on the counter attack. In fact the "Capitolini" took the lead after 17 minutes. Lazio midfielder Luigi Bodrato I charged forward and teed up Aldo Spivach who beat Archimede Valeriani. Lazio 1 Napoli 0.

The "Partenopei" continued to occupy Lazio’s half but had great difficulty creating any serious chances. Halftime Lazio 1 Napoli 0.

The second half started in the same pattern but in the 55th minute Napoli equalised. It was Attila Sallustro who scourged Lazio's barricade and drew the Campani level. Lazio 1 Napoli 1.

Five minutes later another key event occurred when Lazio’s Luigi Saraceni II was sent off for an attempted punch at Camillo Fenili.

Ten minutes later Napoli took advantage of the numerical superiority and went into the lead. In the 69th minute a Gontarno Innocenti II shot caught the Lazio defence unawares and put the "Azzurri" in front. Lazio 1 Napoli 2. At this point Napoli seemed in the driving seat, 2-1 up and Lazio down to ten men.

There was another factor to take into account however, the heat. Napoli suddenly slowed down and started to look tired. In the 80th Lazio found an equaliser, Carlo Cevenini V with something between a cross and a shot put the ball over Valeriani and into the net. Lazio 2 Napoli 2.

The heat, tiredness and tension then got the better of both teams and the game ended 2-2. The pointless extra time drew the game out even longer but it was obvious a rematch would be necessary.

The two teams would again try to break the deadlock a week later, at the Stadio Appiani in Padova. Third time lucky?

Who played for Lazio

Sclavi, Saraceni II, Bottacini, Pardini, Furlani, Caimmi, Cevenini V, Bodrato, Spivach, Rier, Vaccari

Manager: Molnár

Who played for Napoli

Valeriani, Innocenti I, Scacchetti, De Martino, Roggia, Cassese, Gariglio, Innocenti II, Sallustro, C.Buscaglia, Fenili

Manager: Terrile

Referee: Carraro

Goals: 17' Spivach, 55' Sallustro, 69' Innocenti II, 80' Cevenini V


At first the game in Padova was initially postponed. Then came a "coup de théâtre", the FIGC decided to change the format from 16 to 18 teams thus qualifying Lazio and Napoli plus Triestina (9th in Group A). Another playoff was no longer necessary.

Lazio would participate in the 1929-30 Single National Serie A Championship!



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