A stoppage time goal from on-loan Brazilian striker Keirrison has cost Lazio a vital two points in their fight against relegation.
Despite a boycott in protest of the club’s recent run of results by the Ultrà and an eye-watering list of absentees, the Biancocelesti started the game at an electrifying pace – forcing a save from Sebastian Frey after just 35 seconds. A period of total dominance in the early exchanges was rewarded in spectacular fashion on seven minutes. A Cristian Ledesma corner met with Sebastiano Siviglia’s audacious flick at the near post, with the ball looping over the Viola defence and Frey’s outstretched glove, flicking the underside of the bar on its way to goal.
As a Lazio side – ravaged by injury and suspension – played nothing like a team languishing at the lower end of the table, Fiorentina looked overawed. The home side’s pressing play in the middle of the park starved a makeshift frontline of any service. Struggling for goals already this season and clearly missing the attacking outlet from the back of Alessandro Gamberini and the creative spark provided by Mario Santana and Juan Manuel Vargas in the midfield, Fiorentina looked a pale imitation of the side that led for 80 minutes in their midweek encounter with Milan.
Despite feeding on nothing but scraps for much of the first half, the visitors did manage to create their first significant opening on 25 minutes though with Adem Ljajić playing Marco Marchionni in after finding himself in some rare space. The Italian’s feeble effort failed to trouble the Lazio number three, Tommaso Berni, who did not put a foot wrong all evening.
The lack of cutting edge in front of goal that has blighted the Aquile all season was evident on the stroke of half-time. A Sergio Floccari through ball beat the offside trap to put Stefano Mauri clean on goal, with the Italian shooting straight at an advancing Frey who did well to close down the angle.
The visitors forced their way back in to the game after the break, the introduction of Keirrison at in the early part of the half at the expense of Ljajić, who did little to make a case for a regular first-team place, gave la Viola the attacking impetus they lacked in the first half. A Montolivo-inspired period of dominance reminiscent of Lazio in the first-half saw their makeshift frontline spurn a number of gilt edge chances. 16-year-old Elhadji Khouma almost capped his league debut with a goal on 77 minutes, guiding a towering header the wrong side of the bar from a corner. It was Keirrison who stole the headlines though, guiding a side-footed volley in to the bottom corner in the 92nd minute.
Despite both sides having positives to take from their respective performances, the result is no good for either of their ambitions. With only 12 games remaining and five points adrift of the European places, la Viola need to start converting periods of brilliance in to consistent results. Edy Reja will be desperate to turn a side that have drawn more games than any other club in the league in to a team capable of closing out and winning games. In a perilous position, just one point above the relegation zone Lazio must stop playing bravely but narrowly missing out to stand any chance of climbing the table.