Lazio Win Dramatic Serie A Title in 26 Years

Published May 15th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Lazio won the Italian league for the first time in 26 years, clinching the second title in club history, Sunday after thrashing Reggina 3-0 in Rome, where Juventus suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at Perugia. 

Lazio, who won their only other league title back in 1974 but had been runners-up to AC Milan in 1999, finished the season with 72 points. 

The real drama was at Perguia, were the match was delayed for over an hour at halftime due to a torrential downpour that threatened to force referee Pierluigi Collina to abandon it altogether. 

Juventus stayed on 71 points, a two-point lead over Lazio evaporating with their upset at Perugia in a match that was interrupted for 75 minutes by a rainstorm. 

They had been nine points clear at the top in late March but a run of defeats saw them caught by Lazio, who could yet do the league and Cup double. The Rome club beat Inter Milan 2-1 in the first leg of the Italian Cup last month. 

Lazio's victory prompted celebrations in the streets here with car horns sounding, motor scooters being ridden with Lazio flags and banners flying, and fans singing and chanting in the ancient city squares. 

Lazio coach Sven Goran Eriksson said: "It wasn't just me, it was the team who did a great job. They believed they could do it right until the very end and now we've won. And we're just delighted. 

"Winning Serie A is like winning the Champions League," said the Swede, whose team lost in the quarterfinals to eventual finalists Valencia. 

Juventus were sporting in defeat, with honorary president Umberto Agnelli saying: "Compliments to Lazio - a great team has won. We'll meet again next year. But thanks to Juventus for all they've done," - (Several Sources) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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