Giampaolo: “Divine intervention”

“It was divine intervention.” That was Marco Giampaolo’s explanation for Riccardo Saponara’s 98th-minute equaliser after Ciro Immobile had scored what seemed to be a certain winner from the spot in the 95th minute.

Lazio’s penalty was awarded for a handball by Joachim Andersen as he jumped in the wall to defend a free kick after a long on-field VAR review, but not even the replay images could clear it up one way or another – and the Sampdoria boss clearly feels his side were given back what had been unjustly taken away from them.

“This is on-field technology,” the coach began, commenting on Lazio’s second goal. “If you have to use VAR, it’s because there’s a clear reason for it. And it wasn’t at all clear. The free kick itself [which led to the penalty] should have been looked at too because there was a foul on Andersen…”

At the end of the day, Samp left with a point that felt like three.

“This is even better than a 99th-minute winner,” the coach grinned. “We didn’t deserve to lose. We played really well and dug in well. It would have been a shame if we’d lost. Football has given me a huge joy tonight.

“Lazio are a very strong, physical side and they’re good in 1-v-1 situations. We battled with our own weapons as long as we could. Then I added power and height. We showed good character, playing our football, and if we do that we can give anyone a game. I really believe that.”

What did the boss think of Saponara’s equaliser? “I didn’t even see it. I was already back in the dressing room at that point…”

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