It was a disappointing start to the Europa League for Italian football fans, as of the three Italian sides competing in the UEFA Europa League group this season, only Genoa won, as both teams from Rome lost.
Genoa 2-0 Slavia Praha
Genoa entered the Europa League group stage having won all four Serie A matches this season, and they continued this form with a victory at Stadio Luigi Ferraris over Slavia Praha.
The Italian League leaders opened the scoring after just four minuets with Alberto Zapater beating Slavia keeper Martin Vaniak with an arching free-kick from the left hand side of the area. It was the Spanish midfielder’s second goal for Genoa since signing from Real Zaragoza this summer – his first was a similarly well-executed set piece. Soon after, Zdeněk Šenkeřík almost equalised but curled a one-on-one chance over for the away side. However, it was a rare opportunity as the Czech 1 Liga champions were forced to defend against increasingly dangerous Genoa attacks. Hernan Crespo then came close to doubling the lead with a header, while Vaniak saved from Guiseppe Sculli and Zapater before the former ran in to convert a Nenad Tomovic centre to make it 2-0.
Thereafter, the Rossoblu looked comfortable and held on for the win, although Marco Amelia did have to make a save late on. Genoa’s next group game is against Valencia in Spain at the Estadio Mestalla.
Basle 2–0 Roma
In this, his second game in charge of Roma, Claudio Ranieri suffered defeat as the Giallorossi were beaten 2-0 in Switzerland by Basle.
Carlitos gave the home side the lead after 10 minutes. Turning on a loose ball the Portuguese winger fired a drive from 30 yards past Julio Sergio, in goal for Roma.
The visitors’ composed pursuit of an equaliser was encouraging, however, as they kept Basle under pressure with long periods of possession. Rodrigo Taddei had a shot saved by River Plate keeper Franco Costanzo, Francesco Totti hit the crossbar with a free-kick, while John Arne Risse came close with a shot from distance. An equaliser never came however, and the game was put beyond Roma in the 86th minute, when Federico Almerares scored after slipping past an on-rushing Sergio.
Despite the loss however, Ranieri may still be satisfied with aspects of the performance given the short space of time he has had to try to force his pragmatic tactics on a team more used to flowing football under previous Coach Luciano Spalletti.
Roma are at home in their next group game, and play CSKA Sofia of Bulgaria.
Lazio 1 – 2 Salzburg
Having taken the lead against Austrian side Salzburg, Lazio proceeded to throw the game away with two defensive errors.
Huub Stevens’ team were almost gifted the lead in a tight first half when Brazilian defender Emilson Cribari ominously miskicked a clearance that forced debutant keeper Albano Bizzarri into a save.
However, following midfielder Ousmane Dabo’s replacement with forward Pasquale Foggia, Lazio started to create chances. The substitute first went close after a run and shot, then Zarate twice more threatened to beat Salzburg keeper Eddie Gustafsson. The Aquile finally took the lead through Foggia, who swept in a finely placed long range shot after 59 minutes.
The reigning Austrian Bundesliga champions recovered from this concession however, and equalised with 10 minutes of normal time remaining after Bizzarri, blocked by his own defender, could only punch weakly down to Franz Schiemer, who hooked the ball in. Lazio’s poor defensive display was completed three minutes into time added on as Cribari nodded a header for Marc Janko to run onto and place into the net.
Lazio’s next Europa League game is away against Levski Sofia.