Well… this was certainly unexpected. Who would have thought, that almost five years since his last goal from open play, Simone Inzaghi would return to provide such a vital goal to the Biancocelesti? But more importantly who would have thought this Lazio team, who marvelled Serie A enthusiasts since the season started, could have had so much trouble against a modest team like Lecce?
Lecce which today were anything but modest, cynically prepared by their coach Mario Beretta.
Today’s performance, it was inevitable at some point or another, burst the bubble and forced Lazio to drop from the little “Serie A leaders” cloud they were in. It’s probably too soon to be talking about “the end of the fairy tale” for the Biancocelesti, but one thing is for certain: until the 89th, today’s match could have safely been tagged “nightmarish” for manager Delio Rossi.
Ironically, the first few strikes of the match were all in favor of Lazio, as Stefano Mauri (short-range deflection wide) and Cristian Ledesma (free-kick saved by Benussi) came close to opening the score at the Olimpico. So everyone in the stadium, perhaps even the Lecce players themselves, was surprised when Polenghi’s right-wing cross found an unmarked Simone Tiribocchi in the box, and the Giallorossi capitalized on their first chance/counter-attack of the match. 1-0 Lecce.
The goal was a big slap in the face for the home team, who threw themselves forward with rage in order to get the equalizer. Lazio came very close to conceding a second one however, with Lecce providing a constant danger on the counter-attack. It thus wasn’t until the second half that manager Delio Rossi started using all the tricks at his disposal, in order to turn the game around: enter Mourad Meghni (providing added playmaking power), and enter Aleksandar Kolarov (immediately hitting the crossbar on set-pieces, shortly after his entrance). Meanwhile, Ledesma and Pandev were also trying their luck from short-range, narrowly missing the post.
Thus, with one minute of regular time to go, the ace up Rossi’s sleeve came to be the player you least expected: Inzaghi. And much like his older brother Pippo, Simone eluded the offside trap by timing his run to the second, and applied a short-range finish on the volley. 89th-minute drama… Inzaghi-style, to say the least. 1-1.