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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

All downhill in Maribor

Champions League First Group Phase

Game 4

Tuesday, October 19, 1999

Stadion Ljudski Vrt, Maribor

Maribor Lazio 0-4

A superb Mihajlovic freekick opens gates to comfortable 4-0 victory.

A crowd of 10,000 turned up in the second largest Slovenian town. It is famous for skiing but tonight on the river Drava it was Champions League action.

Lazio opted for a heavy turnover compared to their most recent league game. Matias Almeyda was out and Marcelo Salas and Alen Boksic were on the bench while Luca Marchegiani, Juan Sebastian Veron, Paolo Negro and Roberto Mancini were unavailable. The Biancocelesti played with a bulky midfield and Simone Inzaghi up front.

The match was controlled by Lazio from the early stages. The game however was competitive despite Lazio's clear superiority. Alessandro Nesta had to wall a dangerous Balajic shot and Marco Ballotta had to deal with some threatening crosses. In the 18th minute the Romans had a scare when Nesta turned his knee and was forced off, replaced by Fernando Couto. A worry for Lazio's season if it turned out to be serious.

In the 36th minute Lazio scored and the match was never the same again. A magnificent Sinisa Mihajlovic freekick curled around the wall and nestled in near the post at mid-height. Maribor 0 Lazio 1.

The game from then on was a formality and became a question of how many Lazio would score. Inzaghi went close only a minute later from a Mihajlovic cross, headed back towards goal by a defender, but his low shot was saved by Simeunovic with his foot. Lazio in total control at halftime Maribor 0 Lazio 1.

There were no changes during the break. In the 50th minute Lazio made it two. Giuseppe Favalli went down the left, cut inside and squared a ball back to Diego Simeone, "El Cholo" had two attempts at goal, his first was blocked by a defender and the second parried by the keeper but only as far as Inzaghi, lurking near goal, who slotted the ball in from a slight angle. Maribor 0 Lazio 2. It was becoming one of those games the losing side wanted over as soon as possible.

Lazio then had a Simeone goal disallowed for a foul on the keeper and Dejan Stankovic had a left-footed effort shave the post.

In the 61st minute the Slovenians made their first substitution, bringing on Filipovic for Bozgo.

Things however did not improve for the Violets. In the 63rd minute Lazio scored again. Pavel Nedved chipped a ball over the defence from left to right and Dejan Stankovic, inside the area, hammered a right-footed low shot across goal into the opposite corner. Maribor 0 Lazio 3.

With twenty minutes to go and the game done and dusted Lazio replaced Nedved with Guerino Gottardi. The Italo-Swiss took only a few minutes to leave his mark. In the 74th minute he raced past a defender on the right wing and put in a perfect medium height cross on which Inzaghi stretched forward and volleyed in. Maribor 0 Lazio 4.

Lazio then replaced an excellent Sergio Conceição with a more defensive Dario Marcolin and seemed content to slow things down. The Pride of Styria made two more substitutions, Pregelj for Simundza and Drahuska for Seslar but the game had said what it had to say.

The home side tried to get a consolation goal, almost helped by Ballotta when he dropped a catch but it went out for a corner. Final score Maribor 0 Lazio 4.

An accomplished performance by Lazio who after the initial breakthrough had shown to be on a different level to the Slovenian champions. The Maribor coach, Bojan Prasnikar, at the end of the game claimed, "We had never seen such a good team here".

Lazio now needed one more point in two games to qualify for the next group stage. Next up were Bayer Leverkusen at home and Dynamo Kiev away. Lazio however had fingers crossed for "Capitan Nesta".

Who played for Maribor

Simeunovic, Vugdalic, Galic, Sarzeki, Zidan, Djuranovic, Seslar (84' Drahuska), Karic, Balajic, Bozgo (61' Filipovic), Simundza (78' Pregelj)

Substitutes: Gresak, Pekic, Filekovic, Znuderl

Manager: Prasnikar

Who played for Lazio

Substitutes: Mondini, Lombardo, Salas, Boksic

Manager: Eriksson

Referee: Hauge (Norway)

Goals: 36' Mihajlovic, 50' S. Inzaghi, 63' Stankovic, 74' S. Inzaghi



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