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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

May 31, 2015: Napoli Lazio 2-4

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

Lazio win Champions League clash in dramatic style


Lazio clinch an incredible roller coaster game 4-2 and book a place in a Champions League preliminary



Official SS Lazio photo

The season so far


The previous season Lazio had finished a poor 9th. They had replaced manager Vladimir Petkovic with Edy Reja after 16 matches, so the honeymoon with the Swiss was over but not his legacy (2013 Coppa Italia triumph).


This season Lazio had a new manager in Stefano Pioli. There had also been several changes to the squad, some major, some minor. The biggest buy for Lazio was Dutch central defender Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord) who had impressed at the recent 2014 World Cup. Other good signings were defender Dušan Basta (Udinese) and midfielder Marco Parolo (Parma). Another new face was Serbian striker Filip Djordjevic (Nantes - end of contract) while local lad Danilo Cataldi was back from a loan period (Crotone). In the recent winter session the defender Mauricio had arrived (Sporting Lisbon).


Sadly, some players left, in particular Giuseppe Biava (end of contract) and André Dias (retired). Other minor movements were mainly in attack: Emiliano Alfaro (Liverpool Montevideo - loan), Bryan Perea (Perugia - loan/ he would return in January) and Hélder Postiga (Valencia - end of loan). In the winter session popular Uruguayan midfielder Álvaro "El Tata" Gonzalez had left for Torino.


So far, Holland International de Vrij had confirmed to be a class act and Parolo a reliable, solid club player but Djordjevic had not impressed.


Lazio had recently reached the Coppa Italia final but lost to Juventus 2-1 after extra-time (and an incredible double post by Djordjevic).


In the league Lazio had had a good season too. They were currently in 3rd place. They had been 2nd until a few matches ago, but then drew with Atalanta and lost to Inter. They then won away against Sampdoria but then lost the derby. Lazio had won 20, drawn 6 and lost 11, so on 66 points.


Two teams went directly into the Champions League, but the third had access to a preliminary round. This match today was practically a playoff as Napoli were fourth. Lazio needed at least a draw.


Napoli had finished 3rd the previous season and won the Coppa Italia under Rafa Benitez. Since then the Neapolitans had added some good players, particularly defender Kalidou Koulibaly and midfielder Walter Gargano.


This year, again under the Spaniard, the "Partenopei" were in 4th position. They had won 18 (including Lazio in Rome 1-0), drawn 9 and lost 10, so on 63 points. A win, and nothing less, would guarantee them 3rd place.


The "Azzurri" had already had some satisfaction this season as they had lifted the Italian Supercoppa, in December in Doha, beating Juventus on penalties (after a 2-2 draw). They had also reached the semi-finals of the Europa League but lost 2-1 on aggregate to Dnipro from Ukraine.


So today's match was like a final and promised to be exciting. Lazio's advantage of course being that, unlike Napoli, they could afford to draw.


The match: Sunday, May 31, 2015, Stadio San Paolo, Naples


A big crowd turned up at Fuorigrotta for this decisive last game of the season.


Napoli opted for Dries Maertens and Gonzalo Higuain up front (with Lorenzo Insigne on the bench) while Lazio chose Djordjevic and Felipe Anderson (with Miroslav Klose on the bench).


Napoli donned their traditional colours while Lazio played in their claret and light blue away kits.


A minute's silence was observed before the kick-off in the memory of former Napoli player and coach, Bruno Pesaola.


The first half hour was very tense with neither side getting the upper hand. The first big chance however fell to the hosts. Jose Callejon beat the offside trap and had only Federico Marchetti to beat but his low shot went a whisker wide.


In the 33rd minute, a little surprisingly, Lazio went ahead. Parolo received the ball about 30 metres out and let off a cracking left foot, the ball took a very slight and innocuous touch off Gokahn Inler and flew over Mariano Andujar who got his fingers to it but could not stop it. Napoli 0 Lazio 1.


Napoli were stunned and just before the break it got worse. In the 46th minute, and only minute of added time, Lazio scored again. Koulibaly mistimed a pass to David Lopez and Senad Lulic intercepted inside his own half, his quick thinking, low through ball suddenly gave Antonio Candreva acres of space to run towards goal then, having arrived to the edge of the area, he beat approaching Andujar with a low right foot. Napoli 0 Lazio 2.


Almost too good to be true for Lazio who had controlled Napoli well and struck with a Parolo gem and a clinical counter attack. Napoli now needed three unanswered goals to clinch 3rd place but not even the most optimistic Lazio fan thought it was over.


Napoli came out angry in the second half and pegged Lazio back. In the 53rd minute they threw on another striker, Manolo Gabbiadini, for Inler, a midfielder. In the 55th minute Napoli pulled one back and set the roller coaster in action. Parolo lost the ball just outside the area and Marek Hamsik cut it through to Callejon on the by-line, his precise low cross was tapped in by Higuain. Napoli 1 Lazio 2.


In the 62nd minute Lazio were reduced to ten men when Parolo was sent off for a second yellow. In the 69th minute Napoli equalised. Again Lazio were dispossessed, this time Anderson by Koulibaly, Mertens jumped a defender on the wing and put in a low cross to Higuain who eluded a defenders lunge and blasted the ball in from close range. Napoli 2 Lazio 2.


The Napoli faithful smelt blood and the stadium was on fire, things were not looking good for Lazio. A glimmer of hope came in the 70th minute when Napoli too were forced to play in a man less as Faouzi Goulam was given his marching orders.


The hope was short lived as in the 76th minute the "Partenopei" were awarded a penalty probably worth 9 billion Euros. Lulic was punished for bringing down Christian Maggio just inside the area, even though it looked as if the Neapolitan had fallen over the Bosnian. The fact was that the referee Rocchi, after consulting the linesman, pointed to the spot kick. The "Pepita" Higuain stepped up and, to the horror of the locals and relief of the Laziali, blasted the ball over the bar towards Vesuvius.


Lazio regained vigour after being on the brink of disaster. Nine minutes after the penalty drama an unlikely hero appeared in the form of Eddy Onazi. In the 85th minute he took advantage of a Napoli mistake in midfield, a lunging tackle became an assist for the Nigerian who got between two Napoli defenders and beat the keeper as he came out. Napoli 2 Lazio 3, a stunning turnaround in a memorable 30 minutes of football.


Napoli were distraught and a Klose header, from a Cristian Ledesma freekick, made it 4-2 in the 92nd minute. From joy to despair to ecstasy for the Biancocelesti. An incredible night gave Lazio third place and a Champions League preliminary qualification.


The hero was Nigerian Onazi and the Laziale saying "Onazi è l'unico nazi che ci piace" was never as popular. The saying is obviously lost in translation but is a play on words stating that the Nigerian is the only nazi we like.


Who played for Napoli


Andujar, Maggio, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam, David Lopez, Inler (53' Gabbiadini), Callejon (89' Zapata), Hamsik, Mertens (77' Insigne), Higuain

Substitutes: Rafael, Colombo, Mesto, Strinic, Henrique, Zuniga, Jorginho, Gargano

Manager: Benitez


Who played for Lazio


Marchetti, De Vrij, Gentiletti, Mauricio, Basta, Parolo, Cataldi (83' Onazi), Lulic, Candreva, Djordjevic (78' Klose), Felipe Anderson (65' Ledesma)

Substitutes: Strakosha, Berisha, Novaretti, Braafheid, Cana, Ciani, Mauri, Perea, Keita

Manager: Pioli


Referee: Rocchi


Goals: 33' Parolo, 46' Candreva, 55' Higuain, 64' Higuain, 85' Onazi, 92' Klose



What happened next


Lazio came third but never reached the Champions League group stage. They paid the owners stubbornness in not strengthening the squad enough and faced the play-off without a proper centre-forward and a weakened side. They beat Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 in Rome but then lost 3-0 in Germany and were relegated to the Europa league.


It had been a season to remember however, ending in the epic win in Naples. Top scorer was Miro Klose with 16 goals (13 in Serie A).


Napoli with today's defeat were overtaken by Fiorentina and ended up 5th thus qualifying for the Europa League. Top scorer was Higuain with 29 goals (18 in Serie A). It was also the end of Benitez's experience on the Bay of Naples as he would be replaced by Maurizio Sarri.


The Scudetto was won by Juventus for the 31st time while slumping down a league were Cesena, Cagliari and Parma.


Lazio 2014-15

Competition

Played

Won

Drawn

Lost

Goals scored

Serie A

38

21

6

11

71

Coppa Italia

7

5

1

1

17

Total

45

26

7

12

88

Top 5 appearances

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Klose

40

34

6

Parolo

40

34

6

Candreva

38

34

4

Felipe Anderson

37

32

5

de Vrij

35

30

5

Top five goal scorers

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Klose

16

13

3

Parolo

11

10

1

Candreva

11

10

1

Felipe Anderson

11

10

1

Mauri

9

9

-

Djordjevic

9

8

1

Let's talk about Ogenyi Eddy Onazi


Ogenyi Eddy Onazi was born on December 25, 1992, in Jos, Nigeria.


He started playing football in his homeland for El-Kanemi Warriors, My People, Bodens BK and then My People again.


In 2009 Lazio took an interest in him when watching him play in the U19 World Cup. Nigeria were losing finalists to Switzerland and Onazi had a good tournament.


Lazio brought him to Rome in January 2011. At first he played for the "Primavera" (U19's) but then was added to Edy Reja's first team squad. He made his debut in the penultimate game of the season against Atalanta, playing the last five minutes in place of Senad Lulic. Lazio came 4th and won both derbies.


In 2012-13 Vladimir Petkovic became Lazio manager. On September 20 Onazi got his first start in a Europa League game against Tottenham. His first goals came on March 7 in Europe against Stuttgart and on May 8 in Serie A against Inter (a cracking shot from 31 metres). In his first full season he made 15 league appearances with 1 goal, 2 in Coppa Italia and 11 in UEL with 1 goal. Lazio finished 7th but won the derbies of all derbies and won the Coppa Italia on May 26, 2013. Onazi was one of the heroes playing 92 minutes.


The following season, first under Petkovic and then Reja again, Onazi had possibly his best season playing 29 league games with 1 goal (Napoli), 2 in Coppa Italia, 8 In UEL with 1 goal (Trabzonspor) plus the Italian Supercoppa final. Lazio finished 9th and lost the final to Juventus 4-0.


In 2014-15 Stefano Pioli arrived as manager. Lazio had an excellent season finishing 3rd. Onazi played 16 league games with 1 goal (Napoli) and 3 games in Coppa Italia. His goal in Napoli in the last game of the season was decisive for Lazio's Champions League preliminary qualification. Lazio also reached the Coppa Italia final but lost 2-1 to Juventus after extra-time.


In 2015-16 Pioli started but was later replaced by Simone Inzaghi. Onazi played 15 league games with 1 goal (Empoli), 2 in Champions League, 4 in UEL plus the Super Coppa final. Lazio finished 8th and lost the Super Coppa final against Juventus, again, 2-0.


In 2016 Eddy left Lazio. He joined Trabzonspor in Turkey. He played three and a half seasons for the "Karadeniz Firtinasi" (Black Sea Storm). He played a total of 79 games (69 in league) and scored 5 goals (4 in league).


In January 2020 he stayed in Turkey but joined Denizlispor in the SüperLig. Onazi did not last long in South-West Turkey and left after only 10 appearances (9 SL and 1 in Cup).


In July 2020 he moved to Denmark and joined SønderjyskE (Haderslev) in the Danish Super league. Here in central Denmark he stayed even less and left in February after playing 3 games (2 in SL and 1 in Cup).


In 2021 he moved to Lithuania and joined Zalgiris Vilnius. Here he played more, 28 games (19 in A, 2 in Cup, 6 in CL, 1 in Supercup) and scored 2 league goals and 1 in CL. The "Žaliai Balti" (The Green Whites) won the Lithuanian league.


In 2022 Onazi returned to Italy and joined Casertana in Serie D. In Campania he played 8 league games.


In 2023 he joined East Riffa in Bahrein where he is currently playing.


At international level Onazi earned an impressive 53 caps for Nigeria with 1 goal (Venezuela). He played in the 2014 World Cup, reaching the last 16, and won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2013.


Onazi is central midfielder. He is not particularly tall at 1,73 metres but is extremely dynamic. He is good at pressing and breaking opposition play. He is also capable of sudden attacking excursions using his speed and athleticism to throw himself into spaces (well sort of) which is an ability he could have used more in his career.


At Lazio he played a total of 110 games with 7 goals. He is remembered with affection by the fans, for the vital goal in Naples and his legacy is immortal for playing the winning 2013 derby cup final. He will forever be one of the heroes who lifted the Coppa Italia "in faccia" (in the face) of their eternal rivals on May 26, 2013. "Onazi l'unico nazi che ci piace" forever.


Lazio career

Season

Total appearances (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

Europa League

Super Coppa

2011-12

1

1

-

-

-

-

2012-13

28 (2)

15 (1)

2

-

11 (1)

-

2013-14

40 (2)

29 (1)

2

-

8 (1)

1

2014-15

19 (1)

16 (1)

3

-

-

-

2015-16

22 (2)

15 (1)

-

2

4 (1)

1

Total

110 (7)

76 (4)

7

2

23 (3)

2

Sources


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