In an attempt to hang on to the giants Juventus and Milan at the top of the table, Lazio faced Cagliari in a tough away game at Sant’Elia. The home team had managed to draw three straight games at home without conceding a single goal, something that Lazio aimed at changing. And so they did.
The first half was not a half that will be remembered by its high quality in technical skills, and both teams spent major portions of the 45 minutes to make sure the opponents did not manage to score. Cagliari started better than the visitors and created danger through the corners won. After only one minute Ariaudo went close in a chance that was easier to score on than to miss, and shortly after he was close to setting up his team mates on another corner. Lazio on the other hand failed at even get close to Agazzi with any dangerous attempts and the set pieces won in dangerous positions were all wasted by Hernanes’ left foot. The half felt like a typical 0-0 performance by both teams, where the defense from both teams could be satisfied with the performance. But then something changed. Lazio stepped a little on the gas and in the last ten minutes Lazio managed to bring a little more of the game to the Sicilians’ half.
Many had hoped Cisse and Klose would together become the partners up front that Lazio has been lacking for many years, but the first part of the season has not turned out that way for the Frenchman, while Klose has been scoring on a regular. Tonight Cisse showed he can be useful despite getting on the score sheet himself, and in the last ten minutes of the first half time he set up two goals for Lazio. Bosnian Senad Lulic has lately been given plenty of time on the midfield, and just as last week he got a goal to his name. Brocchi passed the ball to Cisse, who simply fed Lulic with a perfect scoring opportunity and Lulic calmly curled the ball behind Agazzio with his right foot.
Cagliari looked shocked now that they were behind at home and when trying to push forward the team to put some pressure on Lazio, the biancoceleste managed to get a second before the half time. Radu had a good run on the left, found Cisse in a good position and a well-weighed cross by the forward found the notorious German behind the Cagliari defenders who could head home the second goal of the evening. Klose had been more or less invisible in the first half, but being able to slot home the chances created is what signifies a world class finisher and it seems that is exactly what Lazio has managed to sign in the summer. When walking off the pitch after the two added minutes nothing pointed at Cagliari being able to turn the game around. Two chances and two goals was in essence what Lazio brought with them to the dressing room and while many complains about Lazio being too passive and not having the most entertaining tactics under Reja, it is hard to be to critical with the result at hand.
If anyone reading this has problems sleeping at nights, make sure you find a copy of the second half of this game and play it as soon as you struggle to fall asleep. Lazio behaved extremely passive throughout the second 45 minutes, and despite some arguing for this being the best way to tackle a game where you are 2-0 up and in the middle of a very hectic run of games, it was a matter of luck and having margins on the right side that let Lazio keep the advantage of two goals for so long.
Not that Cagliari created many clear cut chances, but with some more luck the crosses and corners could have ended up behind Marchetti. Just as Ariaudo missed an open goal in the first minute of the game, Thiago Ribeiro managed to miss an even more open goal in the 77th minute. The Lazio defenders managed to keep most balls entering the penalty area away, while the ones that did reach Marchetti was saved by the former Cagliari custodian.
The second half did bring a long awaited draught to an end and is the detail that will be remembered from this game more than ever. With less than ten minutes left of the game a frustrated Cisse finally was substituted by Reja and in came Rocchi. The 34-year old has been waiting since the qualifiers for Europa League to get another goal, making it 100 in the sky-blue shirt, and with only a few minutes left he finally got it. After Agazzi had managed to save Rocchi’s header, the Lazio captain had an easy time finding the back of the net on the rebound. The scenes following the goal looked more like a goal securing a league title or similar, rather than being the 3-0 goal in a dull and fairly boring Sunday evening fixture in October, with the team and many of the staff celebrating under the travelling Lazio fans. Tommaso Rocchi now belongs to a group of few Lazio players who throughout the years have managed to get 100 goals for the shirt and if there was any doubt in Rocchi being remembered for his achievements for Lazio long after he hangs his boots up that will not be an issue any longer.
Somehow Lazio impresses a lot more on the road than at home. If the team manages to get three-pointers at home as well the road to fight for the top spots lay open. Napoli, Inter and Roma all lost their games this round and Lazio managed to advance to joint second place with Udinese – one point behind Juventus and one point ahead of Milan.
On Thursday Zurich awaits at Olimpico and on Sunday Parma visits the capital. Not many days of rest in other words, but with a win the recovery should go a little easier.
Cagliari: Agazzi, Pisani (69’ Perico), Canini, Ariaudo, Agostini, Biondini, Nainggolan, Ekdal (54’ Ibarbo), Cossu, Nenè, Thiago Ribeiro (86’ Larrivey).
Lazio: Marchetti, Konko, Diakite, Dias, Radu, Brocchi (67’ Cana), Ledesma, Lulic, Hernanes (77’ Sculli), Cisse (84’ Rocchi), Klose.