Valencia Star Gerard Lopez Reminisces UCL Hattrick Against Lazio

Former Valencia star Gerard Lopez has recalled his famous hattrick in the 1999/00 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals against eventual Serie A winners Lazio, helping Los Che dismantle the Italians 5-3 on aggregate over two legs. His classic performance arrived on 5 April 2000, in the first leg, as the Barcelona youth product ran the show in the thrilling encounter at Mestalla.

Gerard Lopez scored his side’s second in just the 4th minute, turning Biancocelesti icon Paolo Negro inside out before slotting home a low finish. Now Inter coach Simone Inzaghi got one back for his side at the stroke of the half-hour mark, but the Spaniard replied with a brace to make it 3-1 following a powerful header.

Speaking to Onda Cero (via La Lazio Siamo Noi) in an exclusive interview, the La Masia youth product reminisced the good old days.

“Whenever there is something about Lazio that moment always comes to mind. It is one of those matches that have marked the history of Valencia and mine in particular. The semifinal against Barça, the following year the final in Milan. They still remember us even though it’s been 20 years. I recently met Totti and he reminded me of that game.”

With the game stuck 3-1 at half-time, it took Valencia a good 35 minutes before they struck again, and via who else other than Lopez, who capitalized on a rebound to become one of the few players to score a hattrick in the UCL knockout stages.

“I consider the three goals against Lazio as one of the three best moments of my life.  Those three goals, I consider them either one of the three or four best moments of my life. In my long football career, the most special moment is when I scored the third goal. I still remember the celebrations with everyone above me. That moment remained etched in my heart. It is undoubtedly the best moment of my football career.”

Chile icon Marcelo Salas made in 4-2 in the 87th minute, but Valencia hit back almost immediately in stoppage time from Claudio Lopez to kill the game.

Lazio won the return leg 1-0 thanks to a lone goal by Juan Sebastian Veron, but ultimately fell short because of the first leg heroics by Gerard Lopez. Valencia went on to the finals that season, only to be beaten by Real Madrid in Stade de France, Paris.

Follow us on Google News for more updates on Serie A and Italian football