Club Focus – Lazio – Aquile fly clear at Serie A summit

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Lazio recorded a 2-1 victory against Calgiari in an intriguing encounter at the Stadio Olimpico. Goals from Sergio Floccari and Stefano Mauri looked to have killed off the Sardinian visitors, but Alessandro Matri hit back giving the Rossoblu hope and ensuring a nervy finish for the capital club.
The hosts began the match nervously, Fernando Muslera uncharacteristically fumbled after good work from Giuseppe Biava and Andrea Lazzari, Matri really should of finished off the follow up. Following a shaky start Lazio began to stamp there authority on the match and took the lead when Sergio Floccari pounced in the penalty area to fire home. The hit man continuing his fine form in a Biancocelesti shirt, he actually would of doubled his money were a not for an impressive save by Michael Agazzi in the Calgiari goal. Both Mauro Zarate and the on fire Hernanes came close for the home side before the break, the Brazilian missing the target by a matter of inches following a mazy run.
Lazio eventually got there second goal in a rather fortuitous manner, Stefano Mauri turning the ball in seemingly with his chest, a truly strange goal. You would of that that would of settled it, that a second Aquile goal would have killed off any lingering Calgiari hopes, but moments after Mauri’s lucky goal, the Sardinians fought there way back into this encounter with a stunning goal. When Lazio failed to deal with a Calgiari free kick, Andrea Cossu found himself in space and crossed the ball into a dangerous area, his cross was met in sensational fashion by Alessandro Matri, who scored with a diving header. The host should really of known better, the striker had scored on his previous two visits to the Olimpico and made it three in three with that quite brilliant goal.
Matri’s goal seemed to shake Aquile, the possibility of slipping up and throwing away a two goal advantage left Lazio looking nervous in the last thirty minutes of this game. Matri almost scored again on two separate occasions and Muslera in the Lazio goal made a couple of smart saves to ensure Lazio remained ahead. Eventually the Biancocelesti got there act together and shored things up for the final few minutes ensuring that they got the 3 points, Tommaso Rocchi in fact almost put the result beyond doubt but saw an effort saved by Agazzi.
In the end it was a good result for Lazio, whilst Calgiari came into this game low on confidence and struggling, Aquile ensured there would be no upset by putting in, bar a few nervy moments, a thoroughly professional display. The result was made even sweeter by news that Inter had stumbled to a 1-1 home draw against out of form Sampdoria. That result at the San Siro means there are now 4 points separating Edy Reja’s men and Rafael Benitez’ Nerazzuri. Of course, it is still early days, but a 4 point cushion is a healthy cushion and can provide Lazio with confidence and belief going into there next fixture.
Predictably and infact sensibly after the game, Reja played down Lazio’s Scudetto chances. Proclaiming that whilst his team remain in good form, they have yet to play any of Serie A’s elite clubs, believing his team can only truly be measured after playing the likes of Inter. He also went on to say that his players are enjoying both training and playing together, highlighting this as a key reason to his teams early season form.
Comparisons were made with Osvaldo Bagnoli’s legendary Scudetto winning Hellas Verona team. Back in 1985 nobody considered Verona as serious Scudetto contenders yet they defied the odds week after week and eventually were crowned Serie A champions. Current England head coach Fabio Capello championed this comparison proclaiming “Lazio can be like Osvaldo Bagnoli’s Verona” “ You have to believe” Edy Reja enjoyed this comparison but stuck by his word saying that a top six finish is the aim for the Biancocelesti. Reja is certainly not playing up to the fairytale and is intent on keeping everybody’s feet firmly on the ground with regard to Lazio’s ambitions for the campaign. Sure, perhaps not the most exciting approach to things, but a sensible one. After Christmas and the New Year, should Aquile remain at the high end of Serie A, then perhaps it will be time for everyone, including Reja, to get all excitable.
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