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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

October 29, 1978: Lazio Vicenza 4-3

Giordano and Rossi draw but Lazio win in epic goal bonanza


Lazio win thriller and two strikers confirm to be best of their generation



The season so far


The previous season Lazio had finished 10th. They had started with Brazilian Luis Vinicio as manager but ended with replacement Roberto 'Bob' Lovati.


This season Lovati had been confirmed. Lazio's main change was in goal with Massimo Cacciatori arriving from Sampdoria. Two midfielders were added; Aldo Nicoli from Foggia and Fernando Viola back from a loan period at Bologna. In attack Aldo Cantarutti was signed from Monza.


The goalkeeper making space for Cacciatori was Claudio Garella. He had committed a series of howlers at Lazio and was nicknamed 'Garella paperella' (rubber duck- a play on words with Italian papera meaning howler in football lingo). He would however go on to win league titles with Verona and Napoli. Also leaving were midfielder Luigi Boccolini to Brindisi and Ernesto Apuzzo to Foggia while Sergio Clerici had retired.


In August and September, Lazio had got through the first group stage of Coppa Italia. The Biancocelesti had won 2 (Bari 1-0 away and today's opposition Vicenza 1-0 at home) and drawn 2 (Pistoiese 0-0 at home and Bologna 1-1 away). They would play Palermo in the quarterfinals in April.


In Serie A Lazio had drawn 2-2 at home with Juventus in their first game. They had then beaten Avellino 3-1 away and drawn 1-1 at home to Atalanta. A week before today's clash however Lazio had been well-beaten 0-3 away to Fiorentina. Lazio therefore had four points in the table.


Vicenza came from a fantastic 1977-78 season. The "Lane" finished 2nd behind Juventus and Paolo Rossi was Serie A top scorer with 24 goals. The Vicentino manager was Giovan Battista Fabbri.


This season G.B Fabbri stayed on and the squad was pretty much unchanged. Vicenza however lost defender Giuseppe Lelj (Fiorentina) and midfielder Roberto Filippi (Napoli) while they added forward Nicola Zanone (Empoli).


In the Coppa Italia Vicenza were already out after 2 wins (Pistoiese 2-1 away and Bari 1-0 at home), 1 draw (Bologna 1-1 at home) and 1 defeat (Lazio 0-1 away).


They were also out of the UEFA Cup, losing to Dukla Prague 1-2 on aggregate in the first round.


In Serie A the Berici had so far won 1 (Catanzaro 2-0), drawn 1 (Napoli 0-0 at home) and lost 2 (Perugia 0-2 away on the opener and Bologna 2-5 away). The Biancorossi were on three points.


So today was a clash between two teams trying to find form and consistency. It was also seen as a battle between two of the best strikers in the country, Bruno Giordano and Paolo Rossi. So far, Bruno-gol was on three while the future Pablito was yet to score.


The match: Sunday, October 29, 1978, Stadio Olimpico, Rome


It was a hot late October day in Rome and there were 40,000 spectators attending.


The game came alive after only three minutes when Lazio took the lead. Antonio Lopez with a low cross teed up Bruno Giordano who, taking advantage of loose marking, attacked the front post and beat Ernesto Galli from close range. Lazio 1 Vicenza 0.


The game was open without excessive tactical rigour. Lazio almost doubled in the 15th minute when the Vicenza defence failed to intercept a cross but Giordano was too surprised to react in time.


In the 18th minute the "Lane" drew level. They were awarded a penalty when Mario Guidetti burst into the area centrally and was clearly tripped by Lionello Manfredonia. Rossi scored with a low shot into the right corner despite Cacciatori going the right way. Lazio 1 Vicenza 1.


In the 20th minute the visitors lost Massimo Briaschi to injury and he was replaced by Paolo Rosi.


In the 21st minute Lazio went in front again. Vincenzo D'Amico from the halfway line sent a long ball to Giordano on the left just inside the area, the local Trasteverino let the ball bounce twice and then put a low left footed half volley in the opposite corner. Lazio 2 Vicenza 1.


Lazio again went close to a double advantage when Ciccio Cordova forced Galli to make a brilliant save and always looked threatening against Vicenza's hesitant defence.


The lead however only lasted until the 40th minute. Rossi danced past a few opponents in midfield and passed to Valeriano Prestanti put in a cross from the left where Guidetti completely unmarked headed the ball downwards and past Cacciatori. Lazio 2 Vicenza 2.


A minute later Vicenza scored again. Franco Cerilli beat his man Lopez on the left near the corner flag, cut in and sent a low cross into the middle. What followed was a classic Paolo Rossi goal, between two defenders he stretched out and got his toes to the ball and put it behind Cacciatori, who touched it but couldn't stop it. Lazio 2 Vicenza 3. A sudden turnaround in an entertaining first half, a very unusual Serie A game, with distracted defences and lots of goals.


The second half started in similar style and in the 47th minute Lazio equalised. In a crowded area D'Amico found Renzo Garlaschelli who beat the keeper coming off his line. Lazio 3 Vicenza 3.


The game remained lively and could have gone either way. In the 55th minute however, Vicenza were reduced to ten men. Cerilli was given his marching orders for some unfriendly words against the man in black.


At this point Lazio took control and attacked continuously. They had two probable penalty appeals waved away and forced Vicenza to defend desperately. In the 75th minute the Biancocelesti replaced a tired D'Amico with Stefano Ferretti).


In the 87th minute Lazio's pressure was rewarded. On the umpteenth corner Pino Wilson was pushed by Felice Secondini as he was about to go for a header. The referee was close by and pointed to the penalty spot. A clear foul or compensation for the previous two? Who knows? The fact is Giordano stepped up and scored with a powerful low strike which went in off the post. Lazio 4 Vicenza 3 (and Giordano 2 Rossi 2).


Lazio easily played out the last few minutes to clinch a memorable win. I was at the stadium that day and it felt incredible to have seen so many goals. In Italian football in those days, it was very rare to have such high scoring games. An entertaining afternoon, Lazio winning and Giordano holding his own against Rossi, a day to remember.


Who played for Lazio


Substitutes: Fantini, Ghedin

Manager: Lovati


Who played for Vicenza


E. Galli, Secondini, Callioni, Guidetti, Prestanti, Miani, Cerilli, Salvi, Rossi, Faloppa, Briaschi (20' Rosi)

Substitutes: Bianchi, Simionato

Manager: G.B Fabbri


Referee: Prati


Goals: 3' Giordano, 18' Rossi (pen), 21' Giordano, 40' Guidetti, 41' Rossi, 47' Garlaschelli, 87' Giordano (pen)



What happened next


Lazio finished in 8th position on 29 points, missing out on a European UEFA participation by 3 points. Lazio won 9, drew 11 and lost 10.


The two best results were a 4-0 thumping of Fiorentina in February and in March Lazio triumphed in the derby against Roma. After being 1-0 down at half time (Cordova o.g.), Lazio equalised (De Sisti o.g) in the 56th and clinched the derby with a Nicoli 88th minute winner. On a personal note, that was the first time I saw Lazio defeat our eternal rivals live at the stadium, with the double satisfaction at the final whistle of seeing Roma supporters burning the seats in their own end (they were still made of wood in those days… the seats that is). Another funny episode was Paolo Ammoniaci being sent off in the 89th minute while he was coming onto the field, his 'game' lasted literally two seconds.


The season also had other satisfactions. Promising young full back Mauro Tassotti came up from the youth team and made 14 league appearances plus one in the Coppa Italia. He would later go on to have an excellent career but unfortunately with A.C Milan.


In the Coppa Italia Lazio lost to Palermo on penalties in the quarter final (after two nil-nil draws).


Lazio's centre-forward Bruno Giordano was Serie A top scorer with 19 goals (plus 2 in Coppa Italia).


Vicenza surprisingly went down to Serie B. They picked up between December and January, beating Roma and Avellino at home and Juventus away but then only won one more match (Lazio 4-1 in March) before being relegated in May. Top scorer was Paolo Rossi with 17 goals (15 in A).


The Scudetto was won by Milan for their first star (10 titles). Keeping Vicenza company on the trudge down to the "purgatory" were Atalanta and Verona.


Lazio 1978-79

Competition

Played

Won

Lost

Drawn

Goals scored

Serie A

30

9

11

10

35

Coppa Italia

6

2

4

-

3

Total

36

11

15

10

38

Top five appearances

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Cacciatori

36

30

6

Giordano

36

30

6

Cordova

34

28

6

Manfredonia

34

28

6

Wilson

33

29

4

Top goal scorers

Player

Total

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Giordano

21

19

2

5

5

-

Wilson

2

2

-

D'Amico

2

2

-


Let's talk about Paolo Rossi


Source Wikipedia

Today, after Roberto Baggio and Gianluca Vialli, we will continue the series on exceptional opponents.


Paolo Rossi was born in Prato, on September 23, 1956. He played for local teams Santa Lucia, Ambrosiana and Cattolica Virtus before joining the Juventus youth set up in 1972.


He stayed with the Bianconeri until 1975 but only played 3 games in Coppa Italia. In his two seasons in the first team squad his managers were Čestmír Vycpálek (Zdeněk Zeman's uncle) and Carlo Parola. Rossi was unlucky in Turin having to undergo three meniscus operations but he would be back one day.


In 1975-76 he moved to Como in Serie A. He played 6 league games under, first Beniamino Cancian (1-12) and then Osvaldo Bagnoli (13-30) but the Lariani were relegated. He played alongside future Lazio Oliviero Garlini and Fortunato Torrisi.


Source Wikipedia

In 1976-77 he joined Vicenza in Serie B and it was a wise choice. The manager was Giovan Battista Fabbri and the "Lane" won the league, with Rossi playing 36 league games with 21 goals plus 6 games in Coppa Italia with 2 goals.


The following season in Serie A was possibly Rossi's career best. The Biancorossi finished 2nd and Rossi scored 24 league goals in 30 matches and another 2 in 4 Coppa Italia games. A memorable season for Vicenza and Rossi. Rossi in this period also became a regular in Bearzot's national Azzurri side.


The next season things went wrong and Vicenza were surprisingly relegated. Rossi still scored regularly with 15 league goals in 28 games and 2 in Coppa Italia in 3 games. Vicenza also played in the UEFA Cup but were eliminated immediately by Dukla Prague (Rossi played 1 game).


With Vicenza down Rossi moved on and joined Perugia on loan. This was the "Perugia dei miracoli" (The Perugia of miracles) that had shocked Italy the previous season by finishing 2nd and unbeaten. This year the manager was still Ilario Castagner. Like Vicenza before, the Umbri were unable to replicate the incredible season. They were however having a decent season (beating Roma and Juventus) until disaster struck on March 23. Three of their players, including Rossi, were arrested for their alleged involvement in the Totonero scandal (match fixing). Perugia faded and finished 7th. The club were eventually docked 5 points for the following season and Rossi banned for 2 years. Until things unravelled Rossi had played 28 league games with 13 goals, 4 games in Coppa Italia and 4 in the UEFA Cup with 1 goal (Perugia reached Last 32, Aris Thessaloniki 1-4 on aggregate).


Rossi's career at 24 was on standby. He returned to Vicenza but was forgotten for the time being. He thought of retiring and leaving the country and has always been adamant on his innocence but in the end, two years later, he returned to football.

Source Wikipedia

In 1981-82 he joined Juventus again who were convinced he would return to his former glory. His suspension ended in May 1982 and he returned for the last 3 games of the season. He scored in his first game, the third in a 4-0 win over Udinese. Juventus won the league and then Rossi was surprisingly and not without controversy called up for the 1982 World Cup squad in Spain. Enzo Bearzot believed both in his innocence and in his footballing abilities. The rest is history and will be mentioned in his Italy chapter.


Back in Serie A Juventus had an unlucky season finishing 2nd in Serie A and being stunned by SV Hamburger 0-1 in the European Cup final. The Bianconeri, under Giovanni Trapattoni, did win the Coppa Italia (Verona 3-2 on aggregate). Rossi played 23 league games with 7 goals, 11 in Coppa Italia with 5 goals and 9 in the European Cup with 6 goals.


In 1983-84 Juventus won the Scudetto and the Cup Winners Cup (Porto 2-1). Rossi played 30 league games with 13 goals, 7 in Coppa Italia and 9 in ECWC with 2 goals. Rossi was no longer the goal machine of the past but this was also because he was not playing as a classic centre-forward. Most goals were scored by Michel Platini (25).


The 1984-85 would be his last in Turin. Things didn't go well in the league and Juventus finished 6th. The Bianconeri won the European Cup but in tragic circumstances. In the final at the old Heysel stadium in Brussels 39 Juventus supporters lost their lives crushed to death before the final against Liverpool. The game was then controversially played and won by Juventus with a Platini penalty. Rossi played 27 league games with 3 goals, 6 in Coppa Italia with 2 goals, 9 in the European Cup with 5 goals plus the European Super Cup (won vs Liverpool 2-0).


In 1985 Rossi joined Milan. It was a difficult year with the ownership passing from Giusy Farina to Silvio Berlusconi in February. On the field Milan finished 7th under Nils Liedholm. Rossi missed the first ten league games due to injury and then played 20 league games and scored 2 goals (a brace in the derby) plus 3 in Coppa Italia with 1 goal.


In 1986-87 he joined Verona and was reunited with Osvaldo Bagnoli. The Scaligeri had a good season and finished 4th (UEFA Cup). Rossi played 20 league games with 4 goals plus 7 in Coppa Italia with 3 goals.


At 31 he retired, ravaged by injuries that had tormented him his whole career.


His national career was far more memorable. He won 48 caps for Italy and scored 20 goals. He made his debut on December 21 1977 in a friendly against Belgium under Enzo Bearzot. He then took part in the 1978 Argentina World Cup with 3 goals. His masterpiece however was in "España '82".


Source Wikipedia

In the first three games Italy only managed draws against Poland 0-0, Peru 1-1 (Bruno Conti) and Cameroon 1-1 (Ciccio Graziani). They scraped through on goal difference and were massacred by the Italian press. The Italy squad closed ranks and interrupted contacts with the media (apart from Dino Zoff and Enzo Bearzot). One of the criticisms was the choice of Rossi after two years of inactivity (Serie A top scorer Roberto Pruzzo of Roma was a more popular choice).


They then beat Maradona's Argentina 2-1 (Tardelli, Cabrini), Zico's Brazil 3-2 (Rossi hat-trick), Poland 2-0 in the semi-final (Rossi brace) and Germany 3-1 in the final (Rossi, Marco Tardelli, Alessandro Altobelli). "Campioni del mondo, Campioni del mondo, Campioni del mondo" as TV commentator Nando Martellini proudly announced.


With 6 goals Rossi was top scorer. From villain to hero for Rossi who became a national legend. Pablito became an Italian icon and also won the "Ballon d'Or" for his Spanish feats.


Italy then did not qualify for the 1984 Euros and Rossi was not included in the Mexico 1986 World Cup squad. He had already done enough to last a lifetime and beyond.


After retiring he tried his luck in politics but failed and worked as a pundit for the major television channels. He also took part in the TV show 'Ballando con le stelle' (Strictly Come Dancing). He kept busy with more serious things too such as charity projects for children with cardiac problems, Palestinian children and he worked with FAO in the fight against world hunger.


Rossi was a striker. He started off on the wing but at Vicenza was moved into the centre of the attack. He was not a physical player at 1.74 metre and 67 kilos. He was extremely quick over short distances and very skilful in tight spaces. He had excellent timing and famous for his opportunism. He was once described as a cross between Nureyev and Manolete (the ballet dancer and the torero). He was an affable and likable character and was universally popular. Less so in Brazil obviously where he is known as the "Carrasco do Brasil" (Brazil's Executioner) due to the 'tragedy of the Sarria'.


In a Lazio connection he will be remembered for his rivalry with Bruno Giordano in the late 70's. In my opinion and I'm sure most Laziali would agree, Giordano was by far the better player. In fact, he had a better club career but Rossi was Pablito and was in the right place at the right time.


He will be remembered especially for his Vicenza days when he was at his peak and then obviously above all as the eternal Pablito of those magic 1982 summer days.


Paolo Rossi died prematurely at 64 in 2020 after a brief battle with lung cancer. Pablito will live on forever in Italian history.


Sources


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