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 The 2000/2001 Season

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Curva Maestrelli
Curva Maestrelli

Number of posts : 149
Age : 40
Country and city : MALTA
Laziale since : 1986
Registration date : 2008-08-12

PostSubject: The 2000/2001 Season   Sat Aug 16, 2008 5:13 pm

b]:: The 2000/2001 Season :: [/b]

Although the euphoria for the second league title was not yet over, Cragnotti continued to surprise the fans and media when he decided to acquire the services of Hernan Crespo from Parma in exchange with midfielders Almeyda and Conceicao. A move that did not seem to make much sense considering Lazio's consolidated midfield setup. Furthermore, Cragnotti strengthened the forward line with the acquisition of Claudio Lopez from Valencia. Mancini who had ended his playing career after the "scudetto", was posted as assistant coach to Eriksson.

The first official match of the season was played against Inter in Rome, valid for the Italian Supercup. Infront of a packed stadium it was Inter, through Robbie Keane, that opened the score. Lazio reacted well and an impressive brace by newcomer Lopez put the Champions infront. Lazio extended their lead through a Mihajlovic penalty-kick, but Inter reduced the gap until Lazio once again got a two-goal lead with Stankovic. Inter scored the third goal too late and Lazio won its second Italian Super Cup in two years. It was Eriksson's seventh title in less than three years. Since the domestic league started only in October due to the Olympic games, in September Lazio played only cup ties. In the Uefa Champions League, it was grouped with Ukrainian Shaktor Donetsk, Czech Sparta Prague and Arsenal. The first match, away against the Ukrainians was easily won 3-0. Even the second match against Sparta in Rome was won with the identical score. Meanwhile, in the Coppa Italia first round Lazio faced Sampdoria. The away match was drawn 1-1 with a Salas goal while in the return leg Eriksson's boys crashed the "blucerchiati" 5-2 with Lombardo and Ravanelli both scoring a brace and Sensini adding another. The match against Arsenal in the Champions League followed, which Lazio lost 2-0 in a very nervous match. Lazio's first encounter was a 2-2 draw away at Atalanta with Mihajlovic and Inzaghi the scorers. The second match was against Perugia. Lazio did not suffer a lot and won 3-0 with Crespo scoring the opener, Mihajlovic and Inzaghi the other two. The match against Verona followed and Lazio lost as had happened in the previous season. Revenge was taken against Brescia in Rome with a 2-1 win thanks to Inzaghi. In that match Lopez got injured. It was Bologna's turn to be beaten 2-0 with goals from Nedved and Crespo, to maintain a good table position. Meanwhile, in the Champions league Lazio drew against Arsenal in Rome but managed to beat Shaktor 5-1 and Sparta 1-0 to qualify for the next round. In the league, it was time to face Juventus who were keen to take revenge on Lazio. The eagles opened the score with Salas until Tudor levelled for the "bianconeri".

A 1-1 home draw against Milan followed. Dino Baggio, a new signing, scored the goal. In the Champions League second round Lazio was grouped with Anderlecht, Leeds and Real Madrid. In the first outing Lazio lost 1-0 in Brussels to Anderlecht. Problems for Lazio were in horizon as it was announced the Erikkson had reached an agreement with the English F.A. to become the new English National Team coach at the end of the season. Lazio's next Serie A match was at Parma were it lost 2-0, with the opener scored by ex-Conceicao. It was the first time after almost three years that Erikkson was invited by the fans to quit Lazio as soon as possible to avoid squandering a whole season. The match against Reggina was quiet delicate but the eagles won 2-0 with Salas and Crespo to reduve the pressure on the squad. Lazio then played the first leg of the Coppa Italia quarterfinals against Udinese were it managed a difficult 2-1 home win, with late goals from Stankovic and Nedved. Then Lazio succumbed for the second time in a row in the Europe when it lost home against Leeds 1-0. Against Vicenza in Serie A it gave some sign of hope when it won 4-1 on away-soil with two goals by Nedved and one each by Salas and Crespo. The derby against Roma was next. Lazio, the reigning champions, had to face league leaders Roma in a battle of giants. Although Lazio was passing through a difficult patch, it was determined to give the cousins a blow. The match was quite balanced, until an unlucky own goal by Negro, gave the three points to Roma. In the return leg of the Coppa Italia, Lazio was unlucky and lost to Udinese 4-1 thus getting eliminated on 5-3 aggregate. The last match of the solar year was played in Bari and saw the light-blues winning 2-1 through Mihajlovic and Ravanelli. After the Christmas break, the season for Lazio restarted at home against lowly Napoli. The match was much more complicated than expected and Lazio's opaque performance resulted in Napoli winning unexpectedly 2-1. The pundits claimed this was all due to Eriksson's decision to leave the club at the end of the season. Due to all this pressure the Swede decided to leave Lazio prematurely and start his career in England. It was the 9th January 2001, the day Lazio played against the Chinese national team to end the celebrations for the centenary of the club. Eriksson gave the last salute to the fans. He would for ever be remembered as the most successful coach in Lazio's history. Cragnotti decided to replace him with Lazio's, ex-coach and president, Dino Zoff. Zoff's cure made immediate effect and Lazio's first outing under his reign resulted in a 4-3 outstanding win away at Udinese. The match against Inter followed, which Lazio won 2-0 with Crespo and Salas. Then Lazio performed superbly once again against Fiorentina 4-1, Nedved, Salas and twice Crespo the scorers. The positive run progressed with the home win 3-2 against Lecce (Crespo 2, Veron). Lazio was then blocked on a goaless draw by Atalanta at home but recovered after winning 1-0 at Perugia thanks to Simeone. The positive run continued with a 5-3 win over Verona (Crespo 3, Nedved and Poborsky) and a 1-0 victory at Brescia through Salas. Meanwhile in the Champions League, Lazio faced twice within a week Real Madrid and was eliminated. Infact after the first two defeats of the group before the Winter break, Lazio travelled to Madrid to grasp its first points and to maintain some chances for qualification. Lazio started the match brilliantly and went infront through Crespo. Real reacted and overturned the score, until Gottardi scored the equaliser with a couple of minutes to go. However, a controversial penalty awarded to the home side gave the Spaniards all points. Lazio's position was now desperate; zero points out of three matches. To continue its adventure in Europe Lazio needed three wins. Against Real in Rome the match ended 2-2. It was not enough to avoid elimination. The last two matches were just a formality. Lazio won 2-1 in Rome against Anderlecht and drew 3-3 at Leeds. Zoff's first defeat in the league was registered at Bologna with a 2-0 score. The next opponent was Juventus who was battling with Roma for the title. Lazio gave a helping hand to their city-rivals when it floored the "bianconeri" 4-1 with a brace each by Nedved and Crespo. Lazio then travelled to San Siro to face Milan and as per tradition, it lost 1-0. Revenge was taken away at Reggina with a 2-0 win through a Crespo double. The home wins against Parma 1-0 (aut.Thuram) and Vicenza 2-1 (Crespo, Simeone) together with some difficulties encountered by the leading duo Roma and Juventus put Lazio back in the title race. The derby was next. It was the first time that both Roman clubs were battling for the title. Roma, who had been leading the table for the whole season, went 2-0 up with 15 minutes to go. Lazio who needed a win to reduce the gap managed a draw through Nedved and a deep injury-time strike by Castroman. Three consecutive wins followed; 2-0 against Bari with a Veron's brace, a 4-2 away triumph at Napoli (Crespo 2, Nedved and Ravanelli) and a 3-1 against Udinese (Crespo 2 and Castroman).

With three matches to go, Lazio was in third place five points behind leaders Roma with Juventus in second place. Lazio travelled to Bari to face Inter on neutral pitch while Roma played at home against Milan. Lazio outplayed Inter and created several scoring chances but managed to score only once through Crespo until a Dalmat effort gave Inter an unexpected late equaliser to practically end all Lazio's title hopes. Roma managed a draw and maintained their four point lead on Juventus and five on Lazio with two matches left. In the penultimate round, Roma was expected to celebrate the title but was blocked on a 1-1 draw at Napoli. Lazio won its home match 3-0 against Fiorentina through an owngoal by Pierini and goals from Crespo and Negro. Juventus also won their match 3-0 at Vicenza and was still hoping to win the title. In the last day Roma, who was still enjoying a two point lead on Juventus, faced Parma, the "bianconeri" faced Atalant while Lazio played at Lecce. Lazio's only possibility was to win while hoping in a Roma defeat and a Juventus negative result to force a decider with the cousins. However, Roma was determined to secure its title and won easily 3-0 to celebrate its third league. Juventus' 2-1 win was in vain while Lazio, probably knowing the other results lost 2-1 to Lecce to finish in third place, thus forced to play the next Champions League preliminary round.

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The 2000/2001 Season
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