Far from being the sparkling squad that lead Serie A today, on June 10, 2001 Napoli are in the middle of a desperate fight to avoid relegation. Coached by Emiliano Mondonico, who substituted Zdenek Zeman after just six games, the Partenopei are third from last with 32 points – one less than Lecce, Reggina, and Vicenza. In the last two games, they need to face Roma at home, and then Fiorentina away.
That Roma coming to San Paolo Stadium, on the other hand, is a team flying on enthusiasm. The Giallorossi are leading Serie A with four points over Juventus, and are looking for the three decisive points to capture the tricolore – the league title. Such motivations produce a highly emotional game, played openly by both sides.
Roma start pressuring from the very beginning, but end up exposing themselves to Napoli’s counterattacks – the one by Nicola Amoruso, well served by Fabio Pecchia in the 37th minute, resulting in the 1-0 goal. But just five minutes later Gabriel Batistuta steps up, and drive fear away from his teammates, making the best out of a corner kick by Francesco Totti to score the 19th goal of his extraordinary season.
Seven minutes after the break, a masterpiece goal by the unforgettable Capitano (although propitiated by a handball…) gives Roma the illusion of Scudetto. Still, with just nine minutes to go, a malicious free kick by Pecchia penetrates the Giallorossi’s wall and sets the score to 2-2.
Roma coach Fabio Capello then sends in Vincenzo Montella – who visibly looks irritated at how late his trainer is putting him in. Indeed, the chance for the tricolore falls right on Montella’s foot – but the Aeroplanino’s furious shot hits goalkeeper Francesco Mancini’s body.
Roma will find the decisive three points for their Scudetto one week later, beating Parma 3-1 in a home ground Stadio Olimpico filled with supporters. Napoli, despite winning in Florence with a goal by Edmundo during extra time, must suffer their fifth – and so far last – relegation to Serie B in their history.
Even tougher times will come for the Partenopei, which will eventually go bankrupt, restart from scratch, and finally make it back to Serie A in the 2007-08 Season. Only 10 years later, Napoli are chasing the dream of their third Scudetto title: Their last descent to hell is just an ancient memory.
June 10, 2001 – Serie A 2000-2001 Round 33
SCORERS: 37’ Amoruso (N), 42’ Batistuta (R), 52’ Totti (R), 81’ Pecchia (N)
|NAPOLI: Mancini, Baldini, Fresi (46’ Saber), Quiroga, Baccin, Pecchia, Husain, Jankulovski, Bocchetti (64’ Amauri), Edmundo, Amoruso (71’ Moriero) (Mondini, Pineda, Tedesco, Sesa) Coach: Mondonico|
|ROMA: Antonioli, Zebina, Samuel, Zago, Cafu, Tommasi (82’ Montella), Emerson, Di Francesco, Totti, Batistuta, Delvecchio (55’ Zanetti) (Lupatelli, Mangone, Guigou, Assuncao, Nakata) Coach: Capello|
REFEREE: Mr. Treossi from Forlì
NOTES: Yellow cards: Fresi, Pecchia, Bocchetti (N), Di Francesco (R)
Translated by Matteo Carnevale