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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

Against all odds

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

2022-23 Season

Game 25

March 3, 2023

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Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples

Napoli Lazio 0-1

Lazio rise to the occasion in Naples and thanks to a spectacular goal from Vecino win where nobody else has won before

The team

Maurizio Sarri decides to put Matias Vecino in the centre of midfield in order to have a better balance against the almighty Napoli. In defence Nicolò Casale is suspended so space for Patric despite him still having a slight fever before the game and Alessio Romagnoli who returns from injury but is still not 100%. Napoli have only lost one game so far in the Serie A, have won every single game at home except one and have an 18 point advantage over second place. Lazio look as if they are lambs ready to be slaughtered.

The match

Lazio start very well. They take control of the game and Napoli are a little taken back. In the 5th minute Lazio have a great chance to go ahead. Free kick from the left, Luis Alberto crosses in, Vecino back heads the ball which goes over Alex Meret and towards the goal. Giovanni Di Lorenzo clears on the line.

Napoli take a while to get organised and once they do, they have enormous difficulty in developing their usual game plan. Lazio are very compact defensively, there are very limited gaps between the players and all that the Neapolitans are able to do are shots from outside the box. This is what happens in the 17th minute with Piotr Zielinski but Ivan Provedel comfortably saves and again in the 25th when an André Anguissa shot is deflected by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and goes over the crossbar. In the 30th minute Hirving Lozano crosses from the right and the Lazio goalkeeper manages to deflect the ball just that little so as to not allow Victor Osimhen to make contact.

The first half finishes goalless, Napoli are in control but cannot find a way to knock down Lazio's defensive wall. The Biancocelesti are defensively flawless.

Take a look at me now

In the second half Napoli increase the pressure and move the ball around much faster than in the first 45 minutes. In the 58th minute Di Lorenzo on the right, ball to Oshimen in the centre who back-heels for the upcoming Zielinski. His shot is wide. At that point Sarri takes off Felipe Anderson and throws in Pedro.

Lazio score in the 67th minute and what a goal it is. After prolonged possession (1.27), Luis Alberto, outside the box on the centre left, passes the ball to Elseid Hysaj, cross in the middle to nobody, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia tries to clear but it is a perfect set up for Vecino who thunders in and half volleys a powerful shot (116km/h) that stays low and beats Meret. A wonderful goal. After missing so many chances he finally gets a goal (“I’ve missed 15 chances at least I get to score one”, he will say after the match).

In the 71st minute manager Luciano Spalletti substitutes Anguissa and Lozano with Eljif Elmas and Matteo Politano and it is the former who has a chance in the 76th minute when a coast to coast takes him to the limit of the Lazio penalty box but his shot is deflected into corner.

What follows are a number of corner kicks for Napoli and from one of these in the 79th minute comes the biggest chance for the Azzurri. A quick corner allows Kvaratskhelia to cross undisturbed from the left, Osimhen is in a perfect position to score but his header hits the crossbar. The ball falls to Kim Min-jae who heads the rebound but Provedel is miraculous.

Three more substitutions in the 81st minute. Matteo Cancellieri comes in for Mattia Zaccagni, Tanguy Ndombelé for Stanislav Lobotka and Giovanni Simeone for Zielinski for Napoli. In the 88th Danilo Cataldi replaces Luis Alberto.

The last chance of the match is Lazio’s. In the 90th minute a Milinkovic-Savic free kick hits the woodwork.

Great match, particularly from a defensive point of view, and great win. Lazio are now second, at least for a few hours.

Who played for Napoli

Meret, Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Kim, Olivera (90'+3' Zedadka), Anguissa (71' Elmas), Lobotka (84' Ndombelè), Zielinski (84' Simeone), Lozano (71' Politano), Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia.

Substitutes: Marfella, Gollini, Juan Jesus, Bereszynski, Ostigard, Demme, Zerbin, Gaetano.

Manager: Spalletti.

Who played for Lazio

Provedel, Marusic, Patric, Romagnoli, Hysaj, Milinkovic-Savic, Vecino, Luis Alberto (88' Cataldi), Felipe Anderson (58' Pedro), Immobile, Zaccagni (84' Cancellieri).

Substitutes: Maximiano, Adamonis, Lazzari, Gila, Radu, Pellegrini, Fares, Marcos Antonio, Basic, Romero.

Manager: Sarri

Referee: Pairetto

Goal: 67’ Vecino

Bookings: Patric, Osimhen, Elmas, Marusic


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