Sunday Apr 30, 2017  
     
 
  05/03/2015: Throwback Thursday #1: Lazio 8-2 Fiorentina (5 March 1995)
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In three days, Lazio will take on Fiorentina in a crucial, crucial game. Both sides would settle for a place in next season’s Europa League, but both sides have at least one eye on Champions League qualification. The victor will take one step closer to a place in Europe’s elite competition – the defeated side will almost certainly be resigned to a Europa League spot. It will be a spicy encounter and it would take a brave man or woman to bet against either side emerging with the spoils.

20 years ago today, Lazio welcomed Fiorentina to the Stadio Olimpico and things were altogether different. Sergio Cragnotti was at the early stages of building Lazio’s greatest ever football team. Zdeněk Zeman – the most attack-minded manager Serie A had ever seen – was tasked with taking the team up the table while implementing his trademark style of play. Giusppe Signori and Pierluigi Casiraghi were scoring goals for fun. There was plenty to be optimistic about, but in truth, Lazio were lacking consistency and ultimately struggling to find any kind of groove.

Lazio arrived into the encounter with Fiorentina having suffered a 2-0 loss at the hands of Parma and Faustino Asprilla. Prior to that, Zeman’s boys had taken Milan apart in a 4-0 thrashing but that was preceded with a loss to Torino and a home defeat to Bari, the misery that day compounded with a brace from Sandro Tovalieri – Romanista and a current employee at Roma. Shortly before that, Lazio had hammered Zeman’s previous club Foggia 7-1.
So nobody quite knew what to expect, but nobody quite expected Lazio to give Fiorentina a drubbing, and nobody expected the scoreline to be 8-2 in Lazio’s favour.

It was an unforgettable day for one player in particular – Pierluigi Casiraghi. More often than not, he was in the shadow of his more illustrious strike partner Giuseppe Signori, but this was Pierluigi’s day in the sun as he bagged himself four goals. He required only four minutes to etch his name on the scoreboard, tapping in from close-range following Alen Boksic’s squared ball.

On the half-hour mark, Paolo Negro doubled Lazio’s lead slotting home at the far post from a corner before Roberto Cravero converting a penalty to give Lazio a three-nil lead. Gabriele Batistuta had an opportunity to claw one back from the penalty spot just before the half-time whistle, but his poorly-executed penalty was stopped by Luca Marchegiani and the Curva Nord erupted. Lazio had a commanding lead, and at this point, you would expect any side in Serie A to take their foot off the gas, conserve some energy and look forward to the next encounter. This, however, was Zemanlandia.

Pierluigi Casiraghi made it 4-0 five minutes into the second half as he calmly passed another squared ball into the goal, with the Curva celebrating long before the net rippled. Suffice to say, Fiorentina were not exactly comfortable dealing with any ball into the box and Boksic made it five from point-blank range with a diving header, assisted by the head of Casiraghi who jumped into the air with delight.

Lazio were having too much fun, and it would not be Zemanlandia without a couple of conceded goals. Rui Costa tapped home to make it 5-1 before Batistuta was afforded the opportunity to avenge his earlier miss, and he made no mistake this time. 5-2.

If there was any hope of the most remarkable of comebacks for Fiorentina, it was extinguished seconds later. A certain fellow that you might have heard of, namely Stefano Pioli, had a day that went from bad to worse as he was given his marching orders.

Fiorentina could not deal with deliveries before Pioli’s expulsion, but they had absolutely no chance with Casiraghi or any of the deliveries to him now. Casiraghi scored his third and Lazio’s sixth in almost the exact same fashion as his previous two. Take pity on the journalists who had to write the match-report, as the surely ran out of adjectives to describe Casiraghi’s finishes.

In the final 10 minutes, an 18 year-old Marco Di Vaio added insult to injury and Casiraghi assumed penalty-taking duties from Cravero and sealed his figure four and Lazio’s figure of eight. A truly unforgettable day for Laziali.

It was a one-in-a-million result and not one we should expect to be repeated on Sunday afternoon, but we can hope that the outcome on Sunday will have a similar effect on the team. The following weekend, Casiraghi bagged himself a brace against Napoli, scoring in the fourth and forty-ninth minutes as he did against Fiorentina. Napoli staged a remarkable comeback courtesy of Colombian midfielder Freddy Rincón, but Lazio ended the season with a series of consistent performances, racking up 19 points in their final 7 games to finish second in Serie A, 10 points behind Juventus.
It is a big ask, but it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Lazio could end up finishing 2nd in Serie A 20 years later if a vital win against Fiorentina catapults the team onto another level. Stefano Pioli will hope to be on the right end of the result this weekend; at the very least, he could avoid being sent off!

Lazio 8-2 Fiorentina

Lazio: Marchegiani, Negro, Nesta, Di Matteo, Bergodi, Cravero, Rambaudi, Fuser, Boksic (Di Vaio), Winter (Venturin), Casiraghi.
Unused Substitutes: Orsi, Bacci, De Sio. Manager: Zeman

Fiorentina: Toldo, Sottil (Flachi), Luppi, Cois (Amerini), Pioli, Malusci, Carbone, Tedesco, Batistuta, Rui Costa, Baiano.
Unused Substitutes: Scalabrelli, Innocenti, Campolo. Manager: Ranieri

Author: Cathal Mullan
 
 
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