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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

March 1, 1987: Lazio Pescara 3-0

Lazio dominate league leaders


An impressive display shows Lazio were promotion material had it not been for the heavy point handicap




Source Lazio Wiki

The season so far


The previous season had been disappointing. Lazio had finished 11th under Gigi Simoni and at one point even flirted with relegation.

 

In the early summer Lazio brought in a new manager Eugenio Fascetti and several good players to boost their new promotion push: keeper Giuliano Terraneo (Milan), defender Angelo Gregucci (Alessandria), midfielders Antonio Acerbis (Pescara), Giancarlo Camolese (Alessandria) and Gabriele Pin (Juventus) to name a few. In the autumn session Lazio had signed defender Raimondo Marino (Napoli) and forward Paolo Mandelli (Inter-on loan).

 

Leaving were defenders Fabio Calcaterra (Inter-end of loan), Roberto Galbiati (Fiorentina), Arcadio Spinozzi (Reggina), midfielders, legendary title winner Vincenzo D’Amico (Ternana- after 338 games for Lazio), Fortunato Torrisi (Ternana), Claudio Vinazzani (retired due to match fixing ban) plus forwards Paolo Di Canio (Ternana-on loan) and Oliviero Garlini (Inter).

 

The promotion dream however was already shattered in the late summer. Lazio player Claudio Vinazzani was accused of being involved in the "Totonero-bis" match fixing scandal. On August 6, Lazio were sentenced to relegation to Serie C. The owners, the Calleri brothers, risked giving up and 8,000 fans caused urban warfare under the Football Federation headquarters. The players, already in pre-season training in Gubbio decided to stay on for now, awaiting the final CAF verdict (the appeal).

 

On August 26 the appeal court changed the verdict to a lighter nine-point docking in the following season's Serie B. It was still a harsh sentence with two points per victory and especially considering the scant evidence against Lazio, but it meant survival and some hope for the future.

 

So, Lazio started the season at -9 points. The main priority now was survival.

 

After a hesitant start Lazio gathered steam and at one point even looked as if they could join the promotion battle. Then the stress of the handicap and the necessity to push early on began to take its toll and Lazio were starting to struggle in the second part of the season.

 

After the first 19 fixtures Lazio had conquered 24 points, so were on 15. In the last two matches however, the Biancocelesti had drawn 1-1 at home to Parma and then lost 0-2 away to Messina. A win was needed today against high flying Pescara.

 

In Coppa Italia, in August/September, Lazio had got through the first-round group stage of Coppa Italia. The Biancocelesti had won 2 (SPAL 2-0 and Taranto 5-0, both at home), drawn 2 (Vicenza 1-1 and Cesena 0-0, both away) and lost 1 (Napoli 0-2 at home). Lazio had then recently played Juventus away in the first leg of the round of 16 and surprisingly held the Bianconeri to a 0-0 draw. The return game in Rome would be on April 8.

 

Pescara had finished 17th in Serie B the previous season under manager Enrico Catuzzi. This should have meant relegation but they were subsequently rehabilitated to Serie B due to Palermo going bust.

 

This season the manager was Giovanni Galeone. So far, Pescara were doing very well in the league. The Abruzzesi had won 10, drawn 6 (including Lazio 1-1) and lost 5 and were surprisingly joint top with Cremonese, on 26 points. In the previous game the "Delfini" (Dolphins) had beaten Genoa 2-1. Top scorer so far was Stefano Rebonato with 15 league goals.

 

Things had not gone as well in Coppa Italia in August/September. The Adriatici had won 1 (Arezzo 2-1 at home), drawn 2 (Como 1-1 and Fiorentina 0-0, both at home) and lost 2 (Empoli 0-1 and Casertana 1-3, both away). The Biancazzurri were therefore out of the cup.

 

Today, however, was a league game and Pescara announced to be a tough nut to crack.

 

Pescara had some interesting players on their books. In a Lazio connection they had, Lazio fan and future legend, Cristiano Bergodi (1989-1996) plus Franco Marchegiani (1989-91) and former youth player Giorgio Benini (2 games in first team in 1981-82). Pescara also had future top manager Gian Piero Gasperini in the squad.

 

The match: Sunday, March 1, 1987, Stadio Olimpico, Rome


A mild, sunny day and the league leaders attracted almost 50,000 spectators to the Olimpico. The choice of referee also reflected the importance of the game, top level Paolo Casarin (FIFA referee).

 

A minute's silence was observed before kick-off for the recent passing of Umberto Lenzini, the Lazio president of the 1974 scudetto.

 

Lazio today played without a proper centre-forward, instead opting for Fabio Poli and Paolo Mandelli behind a deeper lying "falso nueve" Giorgio Magnocavallo. Pescara had two important absences, top scorer Stefano Rebonato and sweeper Luigi Ciarlantini.

 

Lazio started at an electric pace. The Biancocelesti did not give Pescara time to think and were all over them. Lazio’s movements looked perfectly synchronised and the visitors were constantly and immediately dispossessed when they had the ball.

 

Lazio's superiority bore its fruits in the 14th minute. Roberto Bosco fouled Domenico Caso outside the box on the left and conceded a freekick. Caso floated it into the area where Angelo Gregucci got a light touch with his head and the ball reached Pasquale Marino who controlled it with his left foot and drilled it in from close range. Lazio 1 Pescara 0.

 

Only six minutes passed and Lazio scored again. A perfect Poli-Mandelli one-two set up Poli who, after jiggling past a defender, blasted a cross goal left-footed shot that gave Giuseppe Gatta no chance. A great goal and Lazio 2 Pescara 0.

 

At this point the Abruzzesi stirred slightly and had attempts by Bosco, Rocco Pagano and Gianluca Gaudenzi but nothing too worrying for Giuliano Terraneo. Halftime Lazio 2 Pescara 0.

 

After the break the Dolphins' attempts to resurface faded and Lazio took control again.

 

In the 59th minute Lazio virtually wrapped up the game when they scored a third. It was another spectacular goal, Poli crossed into the area from the right vertex and Mandelli twisted and dived, sending a brilliant header into the right-hand corner. Lazio 3 Pescara 0.

 

Lazio were so confident of the situation that a minute later they replaced Terraneo with reserve keeper Mario Ielpo. Pescara too desperately tried to remedy by putting on a striker Luigi De Rosa for Gaudenzi.

 

The Biancazzurri did have a huge chance in the 64th minute to reduce the deficit. Primo Berlinghieri did well in the area and pulled the ball back to Gasperini who hammered the ball towards goal but, with Ielpo beaten, Magnocavallo managed to clear on the goal line.

 

It was a flash in the pan as Lazio then continued to dominate. More good news for Lazio came in the 75th minute when their main striker, Giuliano Fiorini came on, after being out for two months due to injury.

 

The centre-forward from Modena almost scored on two occasions. First, he had a low effort saved by Gatta and then he hit the post. Not to worry Lazio would need his goals in the future, for now the game was won. Lazio 3 Pescara 0.

 

A great win for the Romans who proved that without the nine-point docking they would have been serious promotion contenders. In fact, without the handicap Lazio would now be top of the table. Unfortunately, they still had relegation worries but these two points were a huge boost.

 

It was a reality check for Pescara but on today's form Lazio would probably have beaten several Serie A sides too.

 

Who played for Lazio


Substitutes: Piscedda, Brunetti, Camolese

Manager: Fascetti

 

Who played for Pescara


Gatta, Benini, Camplone, Bosco, Ronzani (69' Di Cara), Bergodi, Pagano, Gasperini, Berlinghieri, Loseto, Gaudenzi (60' De Rosa)

Substitutes: Minguzzi, Mancini, Marchegiani

Manager: Galeone

 

Referee: Casarin


Goals: 14' Marino, 20' Poli, 59' Mandelli



What happened next


Lazio’s season turned out to be dramatic. They were unable to keep today’s form up and faded physically and mentally. From mid-April especially they struggled, winning only 2 games, drawing 4 and losing 4.

 

They thus arrived to the last game of the season against Vicenza at home in a desperate situation. The table read Cagliari 26 (down), Lazio 31, Taranto 31, Catania 32, Vicenza 32, Campobasso 32 (for 4 relegations). On June 21, 1987, came possibly the most dramatic match in Lazio's history. In the last game of the season nothing but a win would avoid relegation to Serie C and even that may not have been enough. A record crowd of 70,000 witnessed the Biancocelesti beat Vicenza 1-0 with a Giuliano Fiorini goal eight minutes from time. Catania lost, Campobasso drew and Taranto won.

 

Lazio had avoided relegation ... for now. Next up was a three-team playoff in Naples to decide the last unlucky loser. The other two teams were Taranto and Campobasso.

 

On June 27, Lazio lost 0-1 to Taranto with a goal, probably in offside, by Antonio De Vitis. 25,000 fans came back disappointed but would be back with one last chance, the Biancocelesti had to beat Campobasso. The table read Taranto 3 (safe), Campobasso 1, Lazio 0 (Taranto and Campobasso had drawn).

 

On July 5 Lazio managed to beat Campobasso with a Fabio Poli winner in the 53rd minute. They were safe after an incredible season. The Biancocelesti had survived the drop but possibly also as a club.

 

Top scorer was Fiorini with 9 (7 in B) while Mandelli got 6. In Coppa Italia, Lazio lost the return leg to Juventus 0-2.

 

The "minus nine" gang became heroes for life. They are one of the most popular teams in Lazio's 124-year history. A year later Eugenio Fascetti and many of this team would take Lazio back to Serie A. It is the 1986-87 season however which is best remembered.

 

Lazio have never been back in Serie B and have since won both domestic and European trophies but without the heroes of Lazio's 86-87 season history could have been very different. "I ragazzi dei -9" are immortal and are revered as much if not more than the star-studded trophy lifting teams that followed. "Grazie ragazzi".

 

Pescara picked up and won the league (joint top with Pisa). The Adriatici clinched promotion along with the Tuscans and Cesena. Top scorer was Stefano Rebonato with 21 league goals.


Lazio 1986-87

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals scored

Serie B

40

15

14

11

36

Coppa Italia

7

2

3

2

8

Total

47

17

17

13

44

Top Five Appearances

Players

Total

Serie B

Serie B playoffs

Coppa Italia

Caso

47

38

2

7

Pin

45

38

2

5

Terraneo

45

38

2

5

Acerbis

44

37

2

5

Podavini

40

33

1

6

Top Five goal scorers

Players

Total

Serie B

Serie B playoffs

Coppa Italia

Fiorini

9

7

-

2

Mandelli

6

6

-

-

Poli

6

4

1

-

Podavini

5

3

-

2

Marino

3

3

-

-

Acerbis

3

2

-

1

Caso

3

3

-

-

Let's talk about Vincenzo Esposito


Source Lazio Wiki

Vincenzo Esposito was born in Turin, on February 5, 1963.

 

He started his football with the Torino youth set up and later made his first team debut on March 14, 1982, in a home game against Fiorentina. He played one other league game that season, under former Lazio player Massimo Giacomini, and Toro finished 9th. His teammates included future Lazio Giuliano Terraneo (1986-87), Paolo Beruatto (1987-90), Claudio Sclosa (1988-94) and Roberto Cravero (1992-95).

 

In 1982 Esposito joined Prato in C2 and stayed four seasons. In his first the "Lanieri" (Wool Weavers) were promoted, there followed a relegation, another promotion and finally an 8th place. In his four years in Tuscany, he played 116 league games with 1 goal. His teammates included Stefano Chiodi (1980-81, 1982-83).

 

In 1986 he joined Lazio in Serie B. The Biancocelesti were supposed to be trying for promotion but were then docked nine points in August for allegations of match fixing. The manager was Eugenio Fascetti and Lazio ultimately managed to avoid relegation in a three -team playoff by beating Campobasso 1-0. Esposito played 24 league games and 5 in Coppa Italia.

 

In 1987-88 he stayed in Rome and Lazio finally won promotion. He played 23 league games and 5 in Coppa Italia.

 

In 1988-89 he played in Serie A but with Atalanta. Under manager Emiliano Mondonico the Nerazzurri finished an impressive 6th. Esposito played 28 league games and 11 in Coppa Italia (Atalanta reached semi-finals). His teammates included, former Lazio, Oliviero Garlini (1984-86) plus future Lazio Claudio Vertova (1990-92) and Armando Madonna (1990-91).

 

In 1989-90 Esposito moved to Cesena in Serie A. He stayed three seasons with 12th, 17th (relegation) and 8th (in B) places. He played 52 league games and scored 3 goals (all in A, Lecce, Genoa, Bari). His managers were Marcello Lippi (future World Champion), Alberto Battistoni and Attilio Perrotti. His teammates included, former Lazio, Amarildo (1989-90), Fabio Calcaterra (1985-86) plus, future Lazio, Sergio Domini (1990-91) and Marco Ballotta (1997-2000, 2005-08).

 

In 1992 he returned to Prato in Serie C2. He stayed another four seasons with the "Fiordalisi" (Bluebottles). The Biancazzurri won promotion, then finished 13th, 7th and 8th in C1. Esposito played 72 league games with 6 goals. His managers were Roberto Bicchierai the first two years and Giorgio Valeri the next two.

 

At 33 he then retired and went straight into coaching.

 

He started as assistant manager at Prato in C1 and then took over during the season and arrived 6th. From 1998 to 2004 he was first team coach with the Biancazzurri. They finished 4th, 4th, 4th, 1st (promotion to C1), 8th, 17th (relegation). In 2001 they won the C1 Coppa Italia.

 

In 2004 he was with Grossetto in C1 (replaced during season). In 2005 with Albinoleffe in B (replaced during season). From 2006-2009 he was manager of Inter U19's where he won a Scudetto and the prestigious Viareggio youth tournament. He then spent two years with Ravenna in D, a 13th place was followed by a sacking during his second season.

 

In 2011 he returned to Prato again, in Serie D. In the following four seasons the Lanieri finished 14th, 12th, 10th and 13th.

 

He then had a break but went back to Prato in 2019. The Biancazzurri finished 2nd in Serie D. The following year he resigned after 17 matches.

 

In 2021-22 he took over at Livorno during the season. The Amaranto were in the 5th tier but he himself resigned before the end of the season. For the record Livorno finished 2nd but got promoted anyway due to another club's misdemeanours.

 

Esposito was a defensive midfielder. A hardworking, dynamic player, rarely in the limelight but useful to the team. He played 81 games in Serie A with 3 goals. His highpoints were with Atalanta, Cesena and Lazio.

 

At Lazio he is remembered as one of the -9 heroes. He was part of one of the most popular squads in Lazio's history. A dramatic relegation escape earned them cult status. Esposito also stayed on to win promotion back to Serie A the following season. He played 57 games for the Biancocelesti.


Lazio Career

Season

Total appearances

Serie B

Coppa Italia

1986-87

29

24

5

1987-88

28

23

5

Total

57

47

10

Sources






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