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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

Impossible became possible

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

Game 34, Serie A

Sunday, May 14, 2000

Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Lazio Reggina 3-0

Lazio win their second scudetto on a day which could not have been more dramatic.

Official SS Lazio photo

Lazio started very strongly and in the 5th minute they had a chance with Diego Simeone on an assist from Juan Sebastian Veron, but El Cholo’s shot from favourable position was too high. In the 10th minute, there was a free kick on the right. Beppe Pancaro to Veron in the box who crossed, Simone Inzaghi missed the header, Marcelo Salas was anticipated by the Reggina defence, ball to Fernando Couto, again too high. In the 13th minute Beppe Favalli crossed from the left, Pavel Nedved’s header went wide.

In the 33rd minute, long pass from Veron, just over the half way line on the left, to Roberto Mancini on the far right just outside the box. Mancio dribbled past Bruno Cirillo and crossed for Inzaghi who tried to head the ball towards the centre but Ezio Brevi stuck his hand out. Penalty. Inzaghi took the spot kick, 1-0 for Lazio.

In the meantime, in Perugia a storm had broken out and it was raining. Perugia had started the game well and in the 8th minute Nicola Amoruso had a chance but his shot was just wide. In the 17th minute, long pass from midfield by Alessio Tacchinardi, ball in the box on the left for Pippo Inzaghi whose shot was wide by a whisker. Alessandro Del Piero had a chance on a free kick in the 33rd minute but his shot just missed the post.

Back at the Olimpico, in the 35th minute a colossal chance for Lazio to double. Salas on the right sent the ball in for either Inzaghi or Mancini completely unmarked. Simone tried a header but could not get there, Mancini could not volley the ball and in the end shot wide. Not to worry, a minute later Pancaro in the box was fouled by Giovanni Morabito and the referee gave Lazio a second penalty. It was a very generous penalty!!!. This time Veron went to take the spot kick and Lazio went two up.

At Perugia the heavens had opened and it was bucketing down. In the 41st minute Zinedine Zidane from outside the box but central tried a daisy cutter, ball just wide.

The first halves ended with Lazio winning 2-0 and Juventus drawing 0-0.

But the biggest storm since people could remember was taking place in Perugia and the rain was pouring down. The matches should have been taking place at the same time as to not give an advantage to either team, so at the Olimpico they waited to see what would happen in Perugia. After a quarter of an hour the match in Rome started just the same. At Perugia they waited.

Simone Inzaghi in the 49th minute was all alone in front of Massimo Taibi but his shot went into the Curva Sud. In the 58th minute a free kick for Lazio. Veron crossed the ball from the right into the box, Simeone was ready for the header, 3-0 for Lazio. Game over.

Official SS Lazio photo

In the 74th minute Mancini left the field substituted by Sergio Conceicao. His last League game. Standing ovation and Mancio was carried on Attilio Lombardo's shoulders in front of the Curva Nord for his final applause.

What was happening in Perugia? Referee Pierluigi Collina tried a number of times to see if the ball would bounce on the waterlogged pitch, but no. There was a problem. If the game had been abandoned they would have to start from scratch the next day. With what had happened in the previous match when Cannavaro’s goal was disallowed for no reason at all, the Italian referee felt that the repetition of the game would have been unfair. So he insisted. When they were about to give up, the rain stopped. The pitch was not in ideal condition, but playable. The second half could recommence, an hour later than it should have.

Source Wikipedia

At the Olimpico some of the fans had run onto the pitch, some had stayed in the stands looking to find somebody with a radio. There was a rumour that they might have shown the Perugia game on the stadium screen but it did not happen. The Lazio players went into the changing rooms and in small groups found televisions to watch. Some just prayed, not wanting to hear.

In the 50th minute a free kick for Perugia on the left not too far from the halfway line. Milan Rapajc crossed the ball into the box, Antonio Conte cleared but the ball fell to Alessandro Calori. The big defender had a chance to make history, even if not for his own club, and he did not miss. His volley went into the net. Perugia 1 Juventus 0 and Lazio now were temporarily Champions.

At the Olimpico the news spread like a slow fire and the fans went absolutely crazy. Just like they did in the rest of the city and worldwide.

In Perugia Conte had a chance in the 57th minute but his volley from outside the box was wide. The left wing was completely water logged and that’s where Perugia wanted to play whereas Juventus were looking for the drier patches. But the Bianconeri were tired, very tired. Their energy had already started to fade a few games back and now they had to score a goal on a heavy pitch and they only had slightly over 30 minutes to do so. In the 60th minute Del Piero found Inzaghi unmarked in front of Andrea Mazzantini but the older of the brothers could not control the ball. Gianluca Zambrotta came onto the pitch in the 66th minute. Seven minutes and two fouls later he was sent off. Juve now down to 10 men.

The RAI radio commentary started to blare out on the Olimpico tannoy, so now everybody could listen to the match. The commentator was Riccardo Cucchi who later when he retired confessed that he was a Lazio supporter. A famous TV program also did the same so those who were at home could listen to the game via the tube.

In the 78th minute Ciro Ferrara crossed into the middle of the box, the Perugia defence cleared but the ball reached Zidane. Volley, deflected, wide. In the 83rd minute Juan Esnaider dribbled a first Perugia player, a second, a third and shot at goal but a fourth managed to parry and the goalkeeper picked the ball up comfortably. In the 85th minute a big whack from outside the box by Zidane, Mazzanti saved. In the 87th another shot, this time by Edgar Davids, was again saved by the Perugia goalkeeper. A minute later 4 against 2 Perugia counter attack, but Rapajc did not want to make it worse.

Five minutes of injury time. Insults poured out at the Olimpico and around Rome against Collina. The Lazio fans already at the end of their tether could not stand it any longer. There were no more nails left to bite, some were crying for the tension, others were catatonic, even the non religious prayed.

In the first minute of injury time, Davids sent a ball from his box on the limit of the Perugia one, Darko Kovacevic headed it towards Pippo Inzaghi who was completely alone in front of the keeper. He decided to volley the ball. Out. Some Lazio fans died on the spot. However he was offside.

Collina closed the game with over six minutes of injury time.

Cucchi announced “it is 18.04 on May 14, 2000. La Lazio è Campione d'Italia", Lazio are Italian Champions!!

Who played for Lazio

Substitutes: Concetti, Lombardo, Stankovic, Ravanelli

Manager: Eriksson

Who played for Reggina

Taibi, Oshadogan, Stovini, Giacchetta (51' Possanzini), Cirillo, Brevi, Baronio (59' Vargas), Morabito, Cozza (46' Pirlo), Bogdani, Kallon.

Substitutes: Belardi, Foglio, Bernini, Reggi.

Manager: Colomba.

Referee: Borriello

Goals: 33’ Inzaghi (pen), 37’ Veron (pen), 59’ Simeone.

What happened next

Wild celebrations in Rome and elsewhere. People flocked to Piazza del Popolo and later waited for the team at the Circo Massimo, but there were so many people that the bus with the Lazio players could not get there.

On Sunday May 21, great celebrations at the Stadio Olimpico with a friendly between Lazio and Beppe Signori’s Bologna.

Source Wikipedia



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