Napoli Beats Lazio 4—3 to Move into Second Place
One of the best matches of the year shows Serie A at its best.
Great football. Great theater. A Napoli win would put them into second place. The Stadio San Paolo was stuffed with unruly Napoli fans and the coolest Neapolitans with close associations to Aurelio De Laurentiis. Down 2—0 at halftime was a tragic circumstance given the occasion. The final 30 minutes of the match more than made up for this slow collective deflation.
But Napoli came back in the second half to tie the game at 2—2 and nearly went ahead a few minutes later. Christian Brocchi answered for Lazio with an incredible shot that hit the crossbar and deflected straight down just inside the goal line, but the referee didn’t award the goal. Brocchi was displeased to say the least.
A terrible call, which fortunately amounted to little, as Napoli scored an own goal two minutes later and Lazio was again in the lead. After fighting so hard to get back in the game, the blunder sent Napoli manager Walter Mazzari over the edge. Managers often scream, throw their arms up in the air in angered disbelief, but Mazzari picks grass.
Lazio’s defense proved to be their opponent’s best friend. Conceding the first two goals off poorly defended crosses, they gave up a third goal in the 82nd minute by fouling Edinson Cavani in the penalty box, despite Cavani having his back to the goal. In the 89th minute, Cavani broke through a gaping hole in the Lazio defense to score the winner. The comeback sent fans rushing on to the field for a group hug.
While Napoli was ecstatic, Lazio was angry. Players were up in each other’s faces as the game slipped into stoppage time.
After the final whistle, Mazzari looked visibly relieved. He put on his jacket, fumbled with his collar, and let out a deep exhale, which didn’t detract from how cool he looked walking across the field soaking up the fan’s approval. He may be cooler Luigi de Canio, if only because his team is near the top of the table.