Udinese: Handanovic, Benatia, Danilo, Domizzi, Basta, Pinzi, Asamoah, Pasquale, Abdi, Fabbrini, Di Natale.
Lazio: Marchetti, Konko, Biava (43’ Diakite), Dias, Scaloni, Gonzalez, Matuzalem (37’ Cana), Ledesma, Garrido (70’ Kozak), Mauri, Rocchi.
As the writer of a match summary after Udinese-Lazio there is not much to include. The game was one of the poorest in offensive quality this season, for the visitors there was only one hot chance created throughout the game, and when the notorious striker Di Natale opened the scoring for his Udinese the game felt more or less over.
Reja had opted for a very defensive formation and lineup. In the dire squad situation Garrido and Scaloni were starters, and Lazio all through the first half looked very satisfied with 0-0. Marchetti was given the chance to show his qualities once again, securing the clean sheet until half time with style. Up front Rocchi managed a great header, in the end Handanovic parried it to a corner, and that turned out to be the only real scoring opportunity for the full 90 minutes.
One can understand that Lazio travelled to Udine to keep it tight at the back, a draw would let Lazio be in pole for the last three games and in the run for the third and final Champions League spot. Inter and Napoli had earlier managed to fight back a gap between the teams that only a few rounds back looked impossible to make up for, but with the Biancocelesti and Udinese not managing ti win the, on paper, easiest to wins in recent months the situation had grown tense and tougher than many had expected.
The injury crisis continued to plague Lazio, and during the first 45 both Matuzalem and Biava were forced off the pitch. With limited alternatives on the bench Reja threw on Cana, who had one of his worse days at work, and Diakite to partner Dias, two substitutions that did not make life for the old coach any easier. Unfortunately for all Lazio faithful it was evident the team was at Friuli to pick up one point with a catenaccio approach reminding of so many failed attempts earlier in the season, and with no arsenal to attack the Udinese back line it was a matter of time before the Aquile were to suffer.
Halfway through the second half the aspirations to finish third hit a major blow, as Dias missed to mark Di Natale inside the penalty area, and the frequent Lazio killer got his eleventh goal against Lazio in his career. Arguably the most important goal, Udinese got their first win since February and crawled back into the chase for third. With Udinese, Napoli, Inter and Lazio now all in third it will be an intriguing last rounds that are to decide the outcome of the season.
Lazio did not only fail to create any real chance in getting the essential equalizer, the end of the game turned uglier than needed. When everyone in Lazio thought referee Bergonzi had blown the whistle to end the game, a stunt carried out by someone outside the pitch, Pereyra could hit home the 2-0 goal and the Udinese players celebrated like never before. Meanwhile the Lazio players showed an anger and passion that one has to wonder why the team could not have shown on the pitch and throughout the 90 minutes, and in the chaotic situation that followed the second goal Lazio players could simply not control themselves. Dias, probably angrier than anyone else, was red carded after having pushed both players and officials. Scaloni continued the furious outburst and also he was shown a card, a yellow one. In the end of the tumult Marchetti pushed the referee right in front of the cameras, a move that would later have serious consequences for both the player and club.
Today, Monday, the verdict of the Lazio players was communicated. Dias will miss the rest of the season; three games suspension awaits the Brazilian, while Marchetti was given a four match ban and the club a €20.000 fine. What the legal aftermath will bring to the table remains to be seen, but why the players reacted in such a strong game in a game that was already lost, and with the lack of commitment shown in the last games of the season with only one point picked up against Lecce, Novara and Udinese combined, is a question that you as a reader should carry on in the forum.