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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

March 23, 2014: Lazio Milan 1-1

Updated: Mar 23

A bland affair ends in a point each


A mediocre spectacle finishing 1-1 with a Konko own goal and a Gonzalez equaliser is of no real satisfaction to either team. They used to say " Un punto per uno non fa male a nessuno" (A point each damages neither) but that was before the 3-point rule…




The season so far


The previous season Lazio finished 7th but had experienced the wild joy of winning the Coppa Italia beating city rivals Roma in the final.


The cup lifting manager had been confirmed but there had been some changes to the squad. The main arrivals in the summer were Albanian goalkeeper Etrit Berisha (Kalmar), young Brazilian midfielder Felipe Anderson (Santos) and Argentine midfielder Lucas Biglia (Anderlecht). In the winter Lazio had also added striker Hélder Postiga (Valencia).


There were more players leaving than arriving. It was goodbye to goalkeeper Albano Bizzarri (Genoa), defender Modibo Diakité (Sunderland), midfielders Pasquale Foggia (Dubai Club), Danilo Cataldi (Crotone- loan), strikers Libor Kozak (Aston Villa) and Mauro Zarate, this time definitely (Vélez Sarsfield). In January the "Prophet" Hernanes was sadly sold (Inter) and Sergio Floccari also left (Sassuolo).


This season under Vladimir Petkovic had not started so positively and Lazio lost the Super Coppa final 4-0 against Juventus. Lazio also struggled in the league bringing the club to replace Petkovic with reliable Edy Reja after 17 games. The decision was also caused by the Bosnian polyglot having signed a contract to lead the Switzerland national team.


In Serie A Lazio lay in 7th position after 11 wins, 8 draws and 9 defeats, on 41 points. A week earlier Lazio had won 2-0 away at Cagliari.


Lazio were out of both cups, Italian and Europa League. In the Coppa Italia they had defeated Parma 2-1 but then were eliminated by Napoli away 1-0 in the quarter finals. In Europe they got through the group stage with Polish Legia Warsaw (1-0, 2-0), Turkish Trabzonspor (3-3, 0-0) and Cypriots Apollòn Limassol (0-0, 2-1). In the Round of 32 they were knocked out in the dying minutes by Bulgarian Ludogorec (0-1, 3-3).


Today's rivals Milan were not in their best moment. The previous season, under Massimiliano Allegri, the "Diavolo" had finished third. In the summer they had reorganized the squad slightly.


In had come defender Matias Silvestre (Inter), midfielders Valter Birsa (Genoa), Andrea Poli (Sampdoria), Riccardo Saponara (Empoli) while in attack Kaká was back after four years (Real Madrid) plus Alessandro Matri (Juventus). In the winter session the Rossoneri had added three midfield players; Michael Essien (Chelsea), Japanese Keisuke Honda (free agent) and Adel Taarabt (Queens Park Rangers- loan).


Leaving Milan were long serving Massimo Ambrosini (captain and 489 appearances), defender Mario Yepes, midfielders Mathieu Flamini and Kevin Prince Boateng (Schalke 04) and forward Bojan Krkic (Barcelona). In January Matri had joined Fiorentina on loan.


As mentioned, things were not going too well for Milan. Allegri had been sacked in January after 19 games and replaced by former player Clarence Seedorf. Milan were currently in an uncharacteristic 11th place and had lost the last three matches. So far, they had won 9, drawn 8 (including Lazio 1-1) and lost 11, so had 35 points.


In the Champions League they got through the preliminary round in August against PSV Eindhoven (1-1, 3-0). They had then qualified from the group stage; Celtic (2-0, 3-0), Barcelona (1-1,1-3) and Ajax (1-1, 0-0). In the last 16 they had then been eliminated by Atletico Madrid. The Colchoneros won both games, 1-0 in Milan and 4-1 in Madrid.


In Coppa Italia Milan had first beaten Spezia 3-1 but then lost in the quarter finals against Udinese 2-1 at home.


So today was hardly a high-flying clash but more like a game between two struggling and disappointed teams.


The match: Sunday March 23, 2014, Stadio Olimpico, Rome


A match between two under pressure and highly criticized teams was never going to be a thriller. The atmosphere was tense as the 35,000 crowd, sparse for what was usually a big game, were involved in an ongoing fierce protest against club owner Claudio Lotito and the team's performances were not helping.


Lazio had two last minute absences as André Dias and Miro Klose had lower back problems. They were replaced by Diego Novaretti and Brayan Perea. Goalkeeper Federico Marchetti was also out.


Seedorf changed half the team compared to the recent poor performances. In came former Roma Philippe Mexes, Kevin Constant, Essien, Poli and Giampaolo Pazzini at the expense of Cristian Zapata, Urby Emanuelson, Sulley Muntari, Taarabt and Mario Balotelli. Goalkeeper Christian Abbiati was suspended while Ignazio Abate and Riccardo Montolivo were out injured.


Lazio started the game the more positive, at least trying to create something. The Biancocelesti however were slow and predictable. On the wings Antonio Candreva and Keita Balde set up some chances but there was no centre-forward to finalize as Perea seemed disjointed from the rest of the team.


The chances in the first half were few and far between. Japanese midfielder Honda had a couple of hopeful long-range efforts over the bar, the same fate as a Diego Novaretti header for Lazio. The sort of efforts that would not even get on the highlights in an average Serie A game. In the 40th minute Lazio scored but it was disallowed. Novaretti's header beat Marco Amelia but Giuseppe Biava was deemed offside in front of goal. Three minutes later Milan were ahead helped by a huge dose of luck. Kaká went past Alvaro Gonzalez on the left side of the area and put in a medium height cross, the ball fortuitously hit Abdoulay Konko and, completely changing direction, spun towards goal, beating Berisha. Honda then headed high from a Kaká free kick. Half time score Lazio 0 Milan 1. Milan had not done much but had taken advantage of a lucky episode and they all count.


In the second half Reja soon took off the invisible Perea and put Senad Lulic on the wing, moving Keita to centre-forward. In the same 54th minute Balotelli replaced Honda for Milan. Lulic brought a new and much needed energy to Lazio’s attacks. The hosts started to put the Milan defence under constant pressure and were rewarded in the 61st minute. A Candreva cross was first flicked on by a Biglia header and then definitely headed in by Gonzalez. The "Tata" Gonzalez then made his customary phone call to his grandmother in Uruguay using his football boot. So, Lazio 1 Milan 1 and a deserved equaliser for the home side.


At this point the game did not exactly become a thriller but it did improve. Both sides had chances to win it. Gonzalez could have got a brace but hesitated when he had a good shooting opportunity. At the other end Pazzini twisted round a defender but fired over the bar. The biggest chance fell to "Il Diavolo" in the 83rd minute. The wasted talent Balotelli, but still talented after all, saw his powerful low strike come back off the base of the post with the keeper beaten. Lazio then had two late chances with Candreva and Eddy Onazi but both shots went just high. Final score Lazio 1 Milan 1.


The result was not particularly satisfying for either team. Lazio were still five points behind Inter and Parma for the European slots while Milan were eleven behind the same positions and a humiliating 42 points behind the league leaders Juventus. Milan had at least avoided a fourth consecutive defeat but both teams were left in a sort of limbo.


Who played for Lazio


Substitutes: Strakosha, Guerrieri, Cana, Cavanda, Pereirinha, Felipe Anderson, Kakuta, Postiga

Manager: Reja


Who played for Milan


Amelia, De Sciglio (84' Bonera), Mexes, Rami, Constant, Essien, De Jong, Honda (54' Balotelli), Poli (76' Muntari), Kaká, Pazzini

Substitutes: Coppola, Gabriel, Zapata, Zaccardo, Emanuelson, Birsa, Taarabt, Saponara, Robinho

Manager: Seedorf


Referee: Rocchi


Goals: 43' Konko (o.g), 61' Gonzale


What happened next


Lazio's end of season continued in the same inconsistent pattern. A week later they lost 2-0 away at Genoa. They would then win 4, draw 2 and lose 2 in the last 8 games. The Biancocelesti finished 9th, on 56 points, after 15 wins, 11 draws and 12 defeats. The top scorer was Antonio Candreva with 12 league goals. An unmemorable season without any particular high points for Lazio.


Milan surprisingly picked up after today's mediocre performance. They won the next five matches and then lost 2 and won 2 in the last 4 (including the derby 1-0). They finished 8th on 57 points (1 above Lazio) after 16 wins, 9 draws and 13 defeats. The top scorer was Mario Balotelli with 18 goals (14 in Serie A). The Rossoneri's strong finish was not enough to keep Seedorf in his job and for the following season he would be replaced by another former glory, Filippo Inzaghi.


The scudetto was won by Juventus, with a record 102 points, for their 30th title. Falling to inferior levels of "calcio" were Catania, Bologna and Livorno.


Lazio 2013-14

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals scored

Serie A

38

15

11

12

54

Coppa Italia

2

1

-

1

2

Europa League

8

3

4

1

11

Super Coppa

1

-

-

1

-

Total

49

19

15

15

67

Top five appearances

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Europa League

Super Coppa

Candreva

44

37

1

5

1

Onazi

40

29

2

8

1

Lulic

37

30

1

5

1

Keita Balde

35

25

2

8

-

Ledesma

34

27

1

5

1

Top five goal scorers

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Europa League

Candreva

12

12

-

-

Klose

8

7

-

1

Lulic

7

7

-

-

Keita Balde

6

5

-

1

Perea

5

1

2

1

Let's talk about Abdoulay Konko


Abdoulay Konko Faye was born in Marseille, on March 9, 1989. He is French of Senegalese and Moroccan origins.


He started his football at Martigues, near Marseille, in 2000. He then arrived in Italy at a very young age when he joined Genoa youth sector between 2000 and 2002. He then joined Juventus youth side in 2002. In Turin he played for the "Primavera" (U-19's) and in 2003 was often called up to the first squad but without ever making his debut.


In 2004 Juventus loaned Konko to Crotone in Serie B where he found a young manager Gian Piero Gasperini. He stayed two years in Calabria playing 74 games for the" Pitagorici" (The Pythagoreans) and scored 7 goals.


In 2006 he joined Siena in Serie A. He played 14 games and scored his first top flight goal against Messina.


In the summer of 2007 he joined Genoa who, already owning 50%, bought the other half too. With the Rossoblu he was reunited with manager Gasperini. Konko played 37 Serie A games with 2 goals (Inter, Palermo) and 2 in Coppa Italia. The "Grifone" (The Griffin) finished a respectable 10th.


In 2008 Konko went for the Spanish Liga experience joining Sevilla. He stayed in the Andalusian capital for two and a half seasons. He made 44 liga appearances (3 goals), 9 in the Copa del Rey, 5 in the Champions League (1 goal versus Rangers Glasgow) and 9 in the UEFA/ Europa League. In Spain he won a Copa del Rey in 2010


In January 2011 Konko returned to Italy and Genoa. The Genoese club paid 6 million Euros and in his half season back with the "Vecchio Balordo" (The Old Fool) he played 13 league games. The Rossoblu under Davide Ballardini (Gasperini had been sacked after 10 games) finished 10th.


In the summer 2011 Konko joined Lazio for 5 million Euros and signed a 4-year contract. In his first year in Rome he played under manager Edy Reja and Lazio finished 4th. Konko played 26 league games, 1 in Coppa Italia and 5 in the Europa League.


The following year Vladimir Petković arrived and Konko still got his 25 league games with 1 goal (Cagliari), 3 in Coppa Italia (including final) and 6 in the Europa League. Lazio had a mediocre season in Serie A but experienced the ultimate joy on May 26 when they beat eternal rivals Roma to lift the Coppa Italia.


The 2013-14 season was problematic with a change of manager after 17 matches (Petkovic to Reja). Konko played 21 league games, 2 in Coppa Italia and 3 in Europa League. Lazio finished 9th in Serie A.


The following year would be Konko's least active at Lazio. Under Stefano Pioli he fell behind in the pecking order and along with some injuries this meant he only got 2 league appearances and 3 in Coppa Italia. Lazio however had an excellent season and came third, qualifying for the Champions League. They also reached the Coppa Italia final but lost 2-1 to Juventus in extra time (with the sadly famous double post hit by Lazio's Djordjevic).


In his fifth and last year for Lazio, 2015-16, he played a little more regularly. Lazio again had some managerial turmoil changing from Pioli to Simone Inzaghi after 31 games. Konko played 18 times in Serie A, 2 in Coppa Italia and 9 in the Europa League. Lazio came 8th.


In 2016 Konko left the capital and joined Atalanta in Bergamo. Here he was reunited yet again with manager Gasperini. He played 10 league games and 1 in Coppa Italia scoring 1 goal (Juventus). Atalanta had a good season and came 4th. This was Konko's last team as he then retired at the relatively young age of 33.


Konko was eligible to play for three national teams; France, Senegal and Morocco but despite being called up by both African Federations he never played for them so as not to upset his parents.


Since retiring Konko has gone into coaching. In January 2021 he re-joined Genoa as manager of the U-17's. In January 2022 he briefly took over the first team between Andriy Shevchenko's sacking and the arrival of German Alexander Blessin. Konko's only game unfortunately coincided with a 6-0 defeat by Fiorentina. He then returned to the Genoa U-17's. In September 2022 he was enrolled in the UEFA Pro course for managers, the highest qualification for a manager.


At Lazio Konko has his place in history guaranteed. He will forever be remembered as part of the 2013 Coppa Italia winning team. The 26th May is considered one of the high points of Lazio’s history and Konko was a protagonist playing the whole 95 minutes earning himself and that team eternal glory.


He played 126 games for Lazio (92 in Serie A) as right full-back. He was a reliable player, athletic and fast. He was good at pushing forward and possessed accurate crossing skills. On the down side he was injury prone and sometimes seemed to lack initiative settling for a solid, decent game rather than an excellent one. However, he had a good career on the light blue and white side of Rome and could have won more had Lazio not lost 3 finals (2 Supercoppa and 1 Coppa Italia - all against Juventus). For Lazio fans however the one that had to be won was won and Konko was there.


Lazio Career

Season

Total appearances (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Europa League

2011-12

32

26

1

5

2012-13

34 (1)

25 (1)

3

6

2013-14

26

21

2

3

2014-15

5

2

3

-

2015-16

29

18

2

9

Total

126 (1)

92 (1)

11

23

Sources


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