Lazio won its first Derby della Capitale–the Roman derby–in Serie A in over four years Sunday, deservedly beating Roma 3-1 despite losing 20-goal top scorer Ciro Immobile in the pre-match warmup. Striker Keita Balde Diao followed up his five-minute hat trick last week against Palermo with two more in this game, as Lazio moved up to fourth place in Serie A.
Lazio is seven points behind third-place Napoli, but that it is even in contention for European competition is down to coach Simone Inzaghi, who took over just over a year ago with the team in mid-table and relations between the club and its fans at a low. Inzaghi had served his apprenticeship, with six years as a youth coach in which Lazio won the Youth Cup two years running.
That cup form has continued, with Lazio facing an end-of-season Coppa Italia final date against Juventus, after beating Roma 4-3 on aggregate in the semifinal.
Top 10 club rivalries in world soccer
“We had the right spirit and we won very deservedly,” said Inzaghi. “Winning a derby after so many problems gives great belief for the last five matches of the season. If I think about where we started, it has been a real improvement.”
Keita Balde put Lazio ahead but it was pinned back by a Daniele de Rossi penalty–for a non-existent foul–just before the break. Dusan Basta extended Lazio’s lead before its in-form Senegalese forward sealed the victory.
Inzaghi’s progress has been noted elsewhere. Italian press reported that West Ham might offer him the coach’s job there next season–and he would be crazy to take it. Lazio and the progress he has made point to exciting times for the capital side in the future and the likelihood of European matches for years to come.