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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Lazio conquer derby after shock start and dream on

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

Game 27

Saturday, March 25, 2000

Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Lazio Roma 2-1

A goal down after three minutes, and after a midweek battle at Stamford Bridge, Lazio fight back to keep Scudetto dream alive

Official SS Lazio photo

A perfect day for football, sunny, mild and a crowd of 75,000. This was as always a big match, being the local derby, but unlike some years it also meant something in the title race.

Lazio only three days earlier had fought out a tough match at Stamford Bridge, they were also without Sinisa Mihajlovic (suspended) and Alessandro Nesta (injured). Sven-Goran Eriksson left Roberto Mancini, Marcelo Salas and Alen Boksic on the bench and chose Simone Inzaghi up front with Juan Sebatian Veron, Pavel Nedved and Sergio Conceição in support.

Roma had the first chance but a Marco Del Vecchio close range strike was saved by Luca Marchegiani. After only three minutes, however, Roma were already ahead. A medium height Francesco Totti cross was turned in near the goal line by Vincenzo Montella, not without some help from a slightly hesitant Marchegiani. Lazio 0 Roma 1. The nightmares of the away derby, when they had been crushed 4-1 with 4 goals in half an hour with two in the first ten minutes, loomed over the Biancocelesti.

This time however Lazio did not collapse. Hidetoshi Nakata had a long range central shot saved but Lazio too started to have some chances of their own. First Veron headed over the bar and then Nedved had a penalty appeal when he was brought down by Cristiano Lupatelli (in fairness the keeper did touch the ball too).

The game became very dirty with a series of overboard tackles which is nothing new for the Roman derby, traditionally a fierce contest.

In the 25th minute Lazio equalised. A Giuseppe Pancaro cross was met by Inzaghi at the edge of the box, Simoncino then put a left-footed assist into the box for Nedved who at first missed the ball but was then quick to poke in his second attempt. The ball took a slight deflection off Carlos Zago and beat Lupatelli. A mix of timing, perseverance and luck and it was Lazio 1 Roma 1.

Three minutes later Lazio were awarded a freekick about 27 metres out in a central position but were without their master Mihajlovic. Up stepped Veron and Sinisa himself would have been proud of what followed. A perfectly struck shot curled over the wall and made its way into the top left hand corner, a fantastic goal. In three minutes Lazio had turned the derby and their season around. Lazio 2 Roma 1.

The Giallorossi then had two chances to level the score but first Marco Del Vecchio pulled his shot wide and then Totti had a header cleared off the line by Paolo Negro (with Lazio keeper down injured). Before halftime there were two injuries, one per team, in the 37th minute Marcos Cafu hobbled off and in the 43rd Marchegiani, as mentioned, was forced to leave the field due to a serious injury to his neck.

The second half saw Roma take the initiative but they had problems creating any sustained pressure. In the 58th minute Vincent Candela too was unable to continue. Del Vecchio and Totti had a couple of feeble shots and Conceição for Lazio stretched out and almost got a winning touch but the keeper saved with the tip of his fingers. Roma's best chances came again with Del Vecchio whose acrobatic close range shot was saved and Totti whose curler went over the bar. It was Lazio though who went closest to scoring when a Simeone header literally shaved the post with Lupatelli beaten. The last chance fell to Del Vecchio, his shot was powerful but central.

At the final whistle the exhausted Lazio players fell to their knees before the derby win reinvigorated them and they ran towards the Curva Nord to celebrate.

It had been a tough, hard fought battle as derbies should be. The referee had difficulty keeping it under control and resorted to nine bookings. A derby triumph is always satisfying but these three points also enabled the Biancocelesti to face the title race with renewed optimism. The doom and gloom after Verona was replaced with a new belief. Lazio were now six points off the leaders Juventus and the next match was ... against "La Vecchia Signora" in Turin…

Who played for Lazio

Substitutes: Lombardo, Mancini, Ravanelli, Salas

Manager: Eriksson

Who played for Roma

Lupatelli, Zago, Aldair, Mangone, Cafu (37' Rinaldi), Di Francesco, Nakata (46' Marcos Assunçao), Candela (58' Tommasi), Totti, Montella, Del Vecchio

Substitutes: Campagnolo, Gurenko, Blasi, Poggi

Manager: Capello

Referee: Messina

Goals: 3' Montella, 25' Nedved, 28' Veron



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