GUBBIO – Inter’s Primavera team have won the Trofeo Giacinto Facchetti, awarding them the 2011/12 Scudetto. It is the seventh in their history and the third in the Massimo Moratti era. Now it’s celebration time for Daniele Bernazzani and his team, which Andrea Stramaccioni had led to victory in the NextGen Series in Europe. The win comes after the team had won their group, beaten Palermo in the quarter-finals and then AC Milan in the semis. And tonight in the final, Lazio were the last opponents to fall to the Nerazzurri: 2-3.
FIRST HALF – Lazio, surprisingly without defender Crescenzi, faced off against a full-strength Inter, minus the injured Di Gennaro between the posts (replaced by Sala). In attack, Livaja was back after his suspension and only needed 3 minutes to make his mark, when he took advantage of a misunderstanding between midfielder Zampa (a weak back pass from the flank into the box) and goalkeeper Berardi. The Croatian striker was alert and quick to pounce on the mistake, putting Inter 0-1 up.
After 19 minutes, Bernazzani was forced to take off Bessa (a sprain to his right knee after a clash with Vilkaitis), sending on Garritano in his place. Inter were always in control of the match through ball possession, while Lazio relied on their fearsome strikers, and near the 30-minute mark both of them forced Sala into a save. The final 15 minutes of the first half were marked by chances at each end. In the 38th minute Rozzi came dangerously close for the Biancocelesti. Shortly afterward Garritano set up Livaja with an excellent chance but his shot was all power and little precision. In the 43rd minute Duncan had an attempt from distance that was stopped by a diving Berardi.
In the 48th minute, when both teams where thinking of heading to the dressing rooms, Lazio found their equaliser when Rozzi crossed from the right for Barreto to head past Sala to make it 1-1.
SECOND HALF – And once again, the Nerazzurri only needed three minutes to pull ahead. After being challenged by Sbraga on the edge of the box, Garritano served Livaja, allowing the Croatian to smack a shot off the crossbar, which landed in the heart of the box; Garritano, who had done well to follow the action, shot the loose ball past Berardi to make it 1-2. Both teams were feeling the strain and fatigue that comes at this point in the season. Inter then sought to manage the game, utilising the speed of Longo, Livaja and Garritano when they broke into attack.
Inter played as a true group, gritting their teeth, showing the muscle of Duncan and Mbaye, while also making use of the experience of Crisetig and the intelligent dynamism of captain Romanò. Lazio relied heavily on Zampa and Rozzi, looking deep or centrally for Emmanuel (caught in the bite of Spendlhofer and Kysela) and to the left for Barreto (who ran into an offensive-minded Alborno working overtime).
Bernazzani’s defensive line was organised and held up well, and on 68 minutes, after a selfless effort, Longo did what he does best. Picking up the ball on the right flank, and fearlessly winning a tough challenge, he burst forward and unleashed a vicious shot on the run. Now it was 1-3. It was also the fourth goal in the last two games for the forward from Valdobbiadene. Inter tried to kill off the match with their two-goal lead. Lazio were forced to chase but occasionally tested Sala. Just as time was running out and everything seemed fine, Onazi found the score sheet for Lazio in the 89th minute with a shot from outside the box.
The 5 minutes of injury time felt like 5 years. But they passed. And at the final whistle the Scudetto belonged to the Nerazzurri (the second one for the youth academy this season after the Juniores-Berretti title), and to all Inter fans.
Inter 2-3 Lazio (HT: 1-1)
Scorers: Livaja 3, Barreto 45+3, Garritano 48, Longo 78, Onazi 89.
Lazio (4-3-3): 1 Berardi; 4 Ilari, 7 Sbraga (Serpieri 54), 9 Vilkaitis, 5 Marin; 15 Onazi, 16 Zampa, 10 Cataldi (Vivacqua 46); 18 Barreto, 21 Rozzi (Tira 87), 19 Emmanuel.
Unused subs: 12 Scarfagna, 6 Salustri, 11 Cilfone, 13 Grecco.
Coach: Alberto Bollini.
Inter (4-2-3-1): 12 Sala; 3 Mbaye, 18 Spendlhofer, 13 Kysela, 11 Alborno; 5 Duncan, 14 Crisetig; 23 Romanò, 10 Bessa (Garritano 19, Terrani 87), 19 Livaja (Forte 78); 9 Longo.
Unused subs: 21 Cincilla, 16 Bandini, 8 Benassi, 24 Pasa.
Subs: Daniele Bernazzani.
Referee: Domenico Rocca (Vibo Valentia).
Booked: Barreto, Marin.
Added time: 3 + 5 minutes.
Notes: Stadium sold out with more than 5 thousand spectators, a strong presence of Inter fans and members of local Inter Clubs.