Inter: Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Chivu (46’ Sneijder), Alvarez (46’ Obi), Zanetti, Cambiasso, Nagatomo, Pazzini, Milito (70’ Faraoni).
Lazio: Marchetti, Zauri (73’ Cisse), Biava, Dias, Radu, Gonzalez (68’ Konko), Ledesma, Lulic, Hernanes (46’ Matuzalem), Klose, Rocchi.
Lazio slipped again when it mattered the most. Despite going one goal up in the tricky away game against Inter, the home team walked off with yet another win. Ever since 1998 Lazio fans have been forced to watch their team travel back to Rome with empty hands and despite being no worse than Inter on the pitch today the biancocelesti got nothing to be happy about.
The first half saw a go Lazio side enter the pitch, with the game under full control and a home team wondering how to get behind the Lazio defenders. With a 4-3-1-2 formation Reja looked like in full control and it was Lazio that created the best of chances. The defenders were barely tested, but when the attacks were launched by the Nerazzuri the Lazio defenders did look a little shaky. Dias got booked as early as in the second minute, Biava was found out of position and Zauri looked like belonging to the lower leagues once again. Radu was the only shining star this evening. Nice to see his confidence.
Early in the half Rocchi should have given Lazio the lead, as the attacker was released and found himself getting the ball behind Julio Cesar, but his ball bounced off the bar despite being a sitter. Inter looked shocked, and without finding the spaces needed to punish Lazio, Rocchi managed to get his name on the score sheet after all. Ledesma, in one of the good offensive passes this evening, found Rocchi inside the penalty area and the captain found the back of the net on a direct shot. Up until this point Lazio seemed as having the game fully under control, but just as so many times before the leading goal with Reja meant a change in tactics. Klose started falling further and further down the pitch to help out in attack and Hernanes disappeared out of the context of the game. Lazio allowed Inter to get back into the game despite being superior on the pitch – and ahead on the scoreboard – by backing further and further down. The result of this?
Inter equalized just before half time with move down the left, Zauri and Biava could not handle the attackers and Marchetti was caught a little out of position as an in form Milito scored again. Now Lazio looked totally out of balance and the half time felt like not approaching soon enough. When Rizzoli, who overall must be dissatisfied with his display this evening, called it half time the game that early on looked like becoming a nice surprise for the travelling fans had turned into an anxious battle again. Somehow one could sense Ranieri would walk off victorious against Reja again.
At the interval Lazio replaced Hernanes with Matuzalem, while Inter inserted Sneijder and Obi. From the looks of it Lazio went for trying to cover the sides, leaving the centre of the pitch all up to Ledesma to handle. The midfielder gets much criticism for some of his displays, like today, but one should not fail to recognize the work he has to put in for his team. Forced to being the offensive director, as well as the defensive lungs of this team, Ledesma is forced to make mistakes in order to try to put his team mates in positions.
20 minutes after half time Lazio were punished again. Zauri, a player that has cost Lazio several points this season, was a little too slow to get back in line with the rest of the defenders and Pazzini capitalized on the occasion. Replays showed the Italian centre forward was in an irregular position, but the assistant referee let the play continue. Marchetti was caught out of position and Pazzini nicely lobbed the ball over the custodian and knew he had given his team the full points this evening at Giussepe Meazza.
Lazio did get a couple of chances to reply, but when Klose missed a great opportunity by firing a lame shot against Julio Cesar the game felt over and done with. Cisse was subbed in and got one decent chance to find himself on the score sheet, but the Frenchman symptomatically missed the ball. Nothing else was launched towards the Inter defenders by the tired visitors and as the whistle for full time was heard late Sunday evening Lazio saw themselves leapfrogged by tonight’s opponents in the standings. From behind Roma is only three points adrift with one game in hand, while the distance to the Champions League position got larger than in a long time. Lazio have a tough schedule ahead and at the end of January the standings will show where the Biancocelesti are heading this season.