After a very good first half of the season the pressure was on us to continue it into the new year. At the last update we were sitting 4th, 4 points behind leaders Inter Milan, and were in the knockout stages of the Europa League and our Italian Cup campaign was just about to start. It would prove to be a memorable season.
From the last update we would win 10 of our next 12 games to put us firmly in the title hunt. We were still conceding regularly but now we were absolutely banging them in, scoring 3 or more in 7 of those 12 matches. Our run came to an end against Napoli, who I have a shocking record against, who won courtesy of a Divock Origi double, who ALWAYS scores against me. We then beat Novara 3-0 which put us 2 points ahead of Juventus. At this point it was really down to the two of us with 6 games left. Who was I playing next? Yep The Old Lady.
The mercurial Paddy Roberts scored early in the 2nd half and despite pressure from Juve a late Lamin goal gave us a deserved 2-0 win. 5 points ahead with 5 to play. A tense 1-0 away win to Udinese was followed up with us throwing away a 2 goal lead to draw at home to Inter. Chievo were swatted away while Juve and Inter were playing out their own 2-2 draw. 2 games to go, we were 5 points ahead. It was ours to throw away. And that’s what we tried to do. We had a home game against 14th placed Sassuolo knowing a win seals it. We were horrible and got pumped 3-1. However, Juventus were held to a 0-0 draw by Chievo and for the first time since 2000 Lazio were champions! 21 long years of hurt were over.
But our season wasn’t finished.
Our first post-Christmas tie was against Marseille and we sneaked through on away goals. This set us up for a tie against German giants Bayern Munich. The 2nd knockout round had been our target so I was expecting much. At home in the first leg we recorded a magnificent 4-2 victory before drawing 3-3 in Bavaria to advance 7-5 on aggregrate (I only found out recently that the German for Bavaria is Bayern, go figure).
Back to France for the quarter finals and home (2-1) and away (3-2) victories over Olympique Lyonnais put us in the semi-finals. Again we would beat Athletic Bilbao home (3-1) and away (4-2) to set up a final against Tottenham Hotspur. We had now played 18 games in the Europa League and not been beaten once. We had scored 51 goals, a competition record, and been involved in some titanic ties. We were confident.
But Spurs were red hot favourites. Al Hassan Lamin gave us the lead in the 20th minute but Spurs equalised right after half time with a ridiculous goal from about a million yards. There were very few highlights after that and I was holding off making any subs before extra-time. Then, in the 92nd minute, wee Paddy picked the ball up wide on the right. Our right back was also committed up field and I was praying the wee man wouldn’t lose it. He jinked past one, Kyle Walker tried to clean him out but he rode the challenge, it looked like he had overran it but managed to hook a cross in from the byline, as Hugo Lloris came to collect Ciro Immobile nicked in at the near post to knock in a last minute winner. Is there any better way to win a trophy? It was Immobile’s 36th goal of the season and Roberts 26th assist, both club records.
But our season wasn’t finished.
Napoli beat us 1-0 in the final. Cunts.
Actually, what is worth noting is that in the quarter finals of the Italian Cup we beat AC Milan 8-1. I don’t think in all my years of playing FM I’ve ever beaten a proper big club by such a margin. Certainly not without 2 or 3 red cards to help. A proper pumping.
Also nice to see Siena holding their own in Serie A, this season they qualified for the Europa League.