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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

May 11, 1969: Catania Lazio 0-1

Updated: May 11

Facco defies "Etna" factor to give Lazio win


Lazio inflict a first home defeat on Catania and fly towards promotion





The season so far


The 1967-68 season had seen Lazio come in 11th in Serie B. The manager Renato Gei had been replaced by former goalkeeper Roberto Lovati in February. They had a good home record but didn't win even once away and had the least prolific attack of the league.


This year Argentine Juan Carlos Lorenzo was in charge but as he was not in possession of the suitable documentation (Italian passport), he was officially called D.T (Technical Director) and on match days it was Bob Lovati who sat on the bench. From March onwards however "Toto" was finally allowed to leave the stands and take his proper place on the sidelines.

The main changes to the squad were the arrival of defenders Mario Facco (Inter) and Guido Onor (Juventus), midfielder Ferruccio Mazzola (Inter) and striker Gian Piero Ghio (Avellino). Leaving Lazio were goalkeeper Idilio Cei (Palermo), defenders Pierluigi Ronzon (retiring) and Alberto Mari (Sambenedettese).


Lazio were considered one of the favourites for promotion but the start had been slightly hesitant with two defeats in the first five games (Livorno and Ternana, both away). They had then picked up and came into today's game on points in joint second place, after 14 wins, 12 draws and 4 defeats. The Biancocelesti were unbeaten in the last 9 matches. Three weeks ago they had beaten Brescia in the crucial top spot clash and last week had defeated Cesena 2-0. Lazio needed a win today to keep Brescia at bay but more importantly to consolidate their promotion position.


Catania had come 10th the previous season, first under Dino Ballacci and then from November, Luigi Valsecchi. This year the "Etnei" had a new manager Egizio Rubino. So far the Rossoblu were struggling and just off the relegation zone after 8 wins (7 at home and 6 one nil), 14 draws (9 nil nil) and 8 defeats (all away including Lazio). From these statistics it is clear that in their Cibali fortress the Sicilians were not an easy opposition to score against, let alone beat.


The match: Sunday, May 11, 1969, Stadio Cibali, Catania


A sunny and warm day with strong winds, an unbeaten home side who had already won against other promotion hopefuls, a raucous home crowd and a pitch similar to a potato field welcomed Lazio to Catania and the infamous Cibali. It would not be easy…


The early stages of the game were balanced with a corner each. Lazio had the first chance but a Ferruccio Mazzola shot was saved by Rino Rado. In the 16th minute Lazio keeper Rosario Di Vincenzo was safe on a powerful effort by Angelo Pereni. On the half hour mark Giancarlo Morrone was denied by a Mauro Vaiani last ditch tackle. The last fifteen minutes saw the "Elephants" charge forward dangerously and the Lazio defence almost capitulated. As in the 38th minute when, with Di Vincenzo beaten, Pierino Cucchi cleared off the line. Lazio relieved the pressure with Morrone but his solo initiative and shot went high. Half time Catania 0 Lazio 0.


A hard fought 45 minutes which had seen Lazio dig deep at times but had come out unscathed, so far so good.


The second half started with Lazio looking more confident. In the 49th minute Mazzola had a lob go out for a corner. On the subsequent cross a header by Mario Facco broke the deadlock and put Lazio in front. The Milanese full-back had already scored in the home game against Catania so could probably never visit the city for sightseeing again. Anyway, more importantly, Catania 0 Lazio 1.


The Lazio goal only made Catania attack even more ferociously. The "Etnei" had big chances with Angelo Volpato and Umberto Strucchi and then Giorgio Girol hit the crossbar with a free kick. Lazio occasionally tried to strike on the break and Giuliano Fortunato had a shot parried and then blocked by Rado.


Catania attacked, attacked and attacked again. There were several scrambles in the area and a concentrated Di Vincenzo somehow kept the home side at bay. Lazio then had a colossal opportunity to close the game on the break. An excellent move by Morrone gave Cucchi an easy chance but he managed to miss.


So back to the trenches for Lazio in the last ten minutes. A Gian Piero Ghio blunder almost handed Gianfranco Trombini and the home side an equaliser and then Di Vincenzo denied Vaiani twice in the dying minutes. Lazio ended the game with knives between their teeth but Di Tonno finally blew up for full-time. Catania 0 Lazio 1.


A vital and possibly decisive win for Lazio and their promotion hopes. Lazio had won where no team had done before while Brescia had lost 2-0 at Perugia so the Biancocelesti had further consolidated their top place with now only 7 games to go.


Who played for Catania

Rado, Cherubini, Li ena, Vaiani, Strucchi, Pereni, Cavazzoni, Volpato (76' Reggiani), Girol, Zanon, Trombini

Substitutes: Criscuolo

Manager: Rubino


Who played for Lazio

Substitutes: Fioravanti, Rinero

Manager: Lorenzo


Referee: Di Tonno


Goals: 50' Facco


What happened next


A week later Lazio drew at Foggia and then on May 18 demolished second placed Bari in a key promotion clash. There followed a home draw against Reggina, an away point at Modena and they then beat Lecco 3-0 to book their place back in Serie A. Top scorer was Ghio with 10 league goals.


The last two inconsequential matches brought only one point but Lazio still managed to win the league on 50 points, ahead of Brescia on 48 and Bari on 47. The last game of the season saw 60,000 fans at the Olimpico celebrate the return to the big time.


Catania ended up 15th after 10 wins, 15 draws and 13 defeats. One other team managed to violate the Cibali, Como in the last match of the season. Top scorer was Maurizio Cavazzoni with 6 league goals. For the Catanesi however the Massimino era was about to begin ... but that's another story.


Lazio 1968-69

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals scored

Serie B

38

17

16

5

55

Coppa Italia

3

-

2

1

2

Total

41

17

18

5

57

Top Five Appearances

Player

Total

Serie B

Coppa Italia

Ghio

40

37

3

Mazzola

40

37

3

Soldo

39

36

3

Marchesi

38

38

-

Fortunato

37

35

-2

Top Five Goal Scorers

Player

Total

Serie B

Coppa Italia

Ghio

11

10

1

Mazzola

8

8

-

Fortunato

8

8

-

Massa

7

6

1

Morrone

6

6

-

Let's talk about Mario Facco


Official SS Lazio photo

Mario Facco was born in Milan, on January 23, 1946.


He grew up in the Inter youth sector. In 1965 he moved up into the main team. In three years he only played 1 league game and 2 in Coppa Italia. He was however part of the Inter squad that won the Scudetto in 1966.


In 1968 he joined Lazio. The Biancocelesti had just been relegated and were attempting an immediate return under Juan Carlos Lorenzo. They did also thanks to Facco who played 28 league games with 3 goals (winners against Catania home and away plus Cesena) and 3 games in Coppa Italia.


The following year Lazio had a good season in Serie A with an 8th place under Lorenzo/ Lovati. Facco played slightly less with 18 league games and 3 in Coppa Italia.


In 1970-71 things did not go as well. Lazio were relegated to Serie B with a 15th position finish. Facco played 20 league games with 2 goals (Verona, Fiorentina) and 3 games in Coppa Italia.


The next season saw the arrival of new manager Tommaso Maestrelli and Lazio's history was about to change. The "Maestro" took Lazio straight up to Serie A again. Facco made 32 league appearances with 1 goal (Livorno) and 8 in Coppa Italia.


Back in the top flight in 1972-73 Lazio surprised everyone by fighting for the title. They played great football coming 3rd and winning both derbies. Facco played less due to injury making 22 league games and 4 in Coppa Italia.


The 1973-74 season was Lazio's masterpiece. Maestrelli's crazy gang shocked Italy by winning the Scudetto. The Biancocelesti conquered the top of the table after 10 matches and never looked back. On the 12th May 1974 Lazio were crowned "Campioni d'Italia" for the first time. Facco was part of it although he only made 6 league appearances, plus 7 in Coppa Italia with 1 goal (Varese) and 2 in the UEFA Cup.


After the Scudetto glory Facco left Lazio and joined Avellino in Serie B. The "Irpini" changed managers three times and came 16th. Facco had a good season playing 31 league games with 1 goal.


The following year was better and the green and white wolves came 9th. Facco only missed one league match playing 37 and scoring 1 goal.


The 1976-77 season saw the Avellinesi take a step backwards and finish 14th under Corrado Vinciani. Facco played 36 league games.


The following year Avellino won their first historic promotion to Serie A, under former Lazio player Paolo Carosi, but Facco by then had moved on.


In 1977 he joined Parma in Serie C. The "Ducali" came 3rd under first Gianni Corelli and then Bruno Mora. Facco made 12 league appearances and at 32 retired due to a serious injury.


He had played 243 professional league games with 8 goals plus 32 in cup games. He also earned one U21 Italy cap.


Facco was a classic man-to-man marker of the late 60's and 70'S. He was a strong defender but clean, good in the air and a solid tackler. He duelled with the best strikers of his generation; Gigi Riva, Paolino Pulici, Pierino Prati, often getting the better of them. There was one striker he had difficulties against and that was Roberto Bettega. At Lazio he had a good six-year period but his final fall from Maestrelli's lineups had a name and surname, Trevor Whymark who scored 4 goals in an Ipswich -Lazio game causing Facco to lose his place to Petrelli.


On retirement Facco became a manager starting with the Avellino youth sector. He then had a series of B and C teams; Squinzano, Frosinone, Salernitana, Barletta, Benevento, Ternana, Vigor Lamezia and Trapani. In 1990 he called it a day and came back to Rome permanently.


He settled in Fregene on the sea near Rome and slotted back into the Lazio world. He became a popular voice on the radio collaborating with various well-known programmes talking about Lazio. He still kept his unmistakable Milanese accent but became a familiar daily fixture for Lazio fans.


He also became a pundit for Rai becoming the commentators' expert sidekick for the televised Lega Pro games (3rd tier football). In recognition of his services in 2018 Rai and Lega Pro set up the "Trofeo Facco", an award given to the best Serie C goal.


He died in his beloved Fregene in 2018. His legacy in Rome is eternal for his presence in the Lazio 1973-74 team of miracles.


Lazio career

Season

Total games (goals)

Serie A

Serie B

Coppa Italia

UEFA Cup

Fairs Cup

Mitropa Cup

Anglo Italian Cup

Cup of the Alps

1968-69

31 (3)

-

28 (3)

3

-

-

-

-

-

1969-70

30 (1)

18

-

3

-

-

2

3

4 (1)

1970-71

28 (3)

20 (2)

-

3

-

2

-

-

3 (1)

1971-72

40 (1)

-

32 (1)

8

-

-

-

-

-

1972-73

28

22

-

4

-

-

-

2

-

1973-74

15 (1)

6

-

7 (1)

2

-

-



Total

172 (9)

66 (2)

60 (4)

28 (1)

2

2

2

5

7 (2)

Sources


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