During the late 1980’s, the Nerazzurri enjoyed tremendous success towards the end of the decade when managed by Giovanni Trapattoni.
Going into week thirty-one of the 1988-89 Serie A season, a week after having secured the Scudetto against Napoli, the Nerazzurri traveled to Stadio Olimipco to take on a struggling Lazio side led by Paolo Di Canio and Ruben Sosa.
Heading into the clash with Lazio, the Nerazzurri were by far the more confident side on the back of a thirteen-game unbeaten run and a come-back win in week thirty against Scudetto challengers, Napoli led by Diego Maradona.
With a comfortable eleven point lead at the top of the table, Giovanni Trapattoni’s had nothing to play for after having won their first Serie A title in nearly a decade.
After a short stint in Italy’s lower divisions, Lazio returned to the Serie A in 1988-89 season. First season back in Italy’s topflight had been a struggle for Biancocelesti, only managing four wins through thirty rounds and tying eighteen matches along the way.
Despite the struggling form all season long, Lazio had managed to consistently cause trouble to all teams in first half of the table, most notably winning the derby against AS Roma and tying the games against Scudetto challengers and reigning champions Napoli and AC Milan respectively.
While their struggles seemed to be offensive in nature, on the defensive end Lazio were thriving. Preparing for the match against Inter on the back of five consecutive clean sheets, Lazio were looking for another upset in week thirty-one to secure all two points against Trapattoni’s men.
Leading the charge for Giuseppe Materazzi were Valerio Fiori, Marco Angelo Monti, Paolo Beruatto, Antonio Elia Acerbis, Angelo Adamo Gregucci, Massimo Piscedda, Paolo Di Canio, Gustavo Abel Dezotti, Antonio Rizzolo, Claudio Sclosa and Ruben Sosa.
On the other end, visitors and title contenders started with Walter Zenga, Giuseppe Bergomi, Andreas Brehme, Gianfranco Matteoli, Riccardo Ferri, Andrea Mandorlini, Alessandro Bianchi, Nicola Berti, Ramon Diaz, Lothar Matthaus and Pietro Fanna.
In first half, both goal keepers showed fantastic form, keeping a clean sheet by making spectacular saves to keep their teams in the match.
Inter orchestrated their attack through the middle with Lothar Matthaus as focal point with his German compatriot Andreas Brehme providing width on the left flank. Lazio were constantly forced on the back foot for much of first half as Inter committed men forward to look for the early goal.
Strategy nearly paid off as Inter headed in a goal before half-time following a marauding run forward from Brehme on the left wing.
However, the goal was disallowed as the German had stepped out of bounds right before playing in the cross. After being forced on the backfoot for majority of the game, Lazio managed to pull ahead shortly after half-time as Gustavo Abel Dezotti headed in a corner kick to give his side a crucial lead.
Soon after the lead, home side doubled-down on defense and parked the bus, trying to grind out a narrow 1-0 win against the league leaders.
Trapattoni instructed his men to stay on course and continue pushing forward since the game plan was leading to his side creating scoring opportunities and it seemed as though it was only a matter of time when they got the break-through.
At sixty-eight minute mark, following a cross from right wing, Ramon Diaz played off a pass to his captain Giuseppe Bergomi who unleashed a long range strike from outside the box straight into the top left corner to tie the game at 1-1 with twenty-two minutes remaining in the match.
The Nerazzurri kept pressing higher up the pitch with their strikers while Biancocelesti tried building from the back. The high pressure on Lazio defenses paid off at seventy-nine-minute mark as goalkeeper Valerio Fiori bobbled a back pass straight in the path of Ramon Diaz who tapped in the go-ahead goal for the Nerazzurri.
Late in the game with only minutes remaining, Lazio committed more men forward looking for the equalizing goal.
However at this stage, it was too little too late, as the Nerazzurri capped off a fantastic counter-attack with Ramon Diaz getting his second and Inter’s third goal of the match to secure the two points and taking the winning streak to four games and undefeated run to fourteen.
Ramon Diaz was man of the match as he scored a brace while leading his side with his menacing movement and positioning inside the box was too much for the Lazio defenses.