Aleksandar Kolarov helped Lazio gather all three points at the Stadio Olimpico against a gritty Genoa side. The Serbian’s stunning goal in the 39th minute ended the rot that the Aquile have been in for several months now.
The home side had a golden chance within a few minutes of the opening as Mourad Meghni’s cross found Mauro Zarate, but the Argentine hitman headed the ball wide from just six yards out. On the other end, Lazio keeper Fernando Muslera made a decent save to prevent Marco Rossi from scoring as he was released by a pass from Omar Milanetto. On 26th minute, Genoa came within inches to scoring as Giuseppe Sculli’s looping header from Ivan Juric’s cross struck the crossbar. A few minutes later, Kolarov’s strike from outside the box went over the bar. The deadlock was broken in the 39th minute as Kolarov did well to get past Emiliano Moretti and held him off to produce a vicious left-footed strike from an acute angle to beat Genoa goalkeeper Alessio Scarpi. Near the stroke of half-time, Lazio almost doubled the lead as Zarate’s shot went just wide off the far post.
A few minutes into the second half, Kolarov delivered a powerful, curling free kick but Scarpi produced a fine save. The game was slowed down by a series of niggling fouls which saw a flurry of yellow cards. Genoa pressed on as Juric’s header hit the upright of the post. The Il Grifone went down to 10 men on 66th minute as Salvatore Bocchetti received a straight red for his tussle with Tomasso Rocchi. Genoa pushed forward in spite of being a man down in search for the equalizer. Six minutes from end of normal time, Sculli headed the ball back in box to find Giuseppe Biava, but he volleyed the ball high over the bar and wasted a good chance to equalize. The Biancocelesti held on to emerge victorious.
Davide Ballardini: “We have been playing well for a while but the result has been a long time coming…This result is very important given the manner in which it came and also for what it brings. It is a very close championship this year, and I think everyone is equipped to be able to take points off each other.”
Before this match, Lazio were truly in crisis. A silenzio stampa was imposed after defeat to Milan as the team had retreated to their training ground to focus better. This seemed to have no impact as they drew the next three league games without scoring a single goal, including the derby defeat to Roma. The Eagles also crashed out of Europa League with defeat to Red Bull Salzburg. Sporting Director Igli Tare was on the verge of quitting his position as fans staged a protest outside the Stadio Olimpico against President Claudio Lolito.
Amidst these circumstances, this win was vital for the club. The Biancocelesti faithful haven’t had much to celebrate this season as their team’s goal tally reached double digits with Kolarov’s goal. But more importantly, this win pushed Lazio to 16th place, three points clear off the relegation zone. The celebration at the end of the match was akin to a team winning a cup final, and it reflects the importance of this result. It was a deserved win, as Lazio created several chances throughout the match. The sending off of Bocchetti was the turning point of the match, yet after the incident Lazio seemed to switch off completely. The players’ work rate reduced drastically and they were a bit lucky not to be punished by a gritty Genoa side. It might be too soon to celebrate though since their next match is against Inter at San Siro. Furthermore, Zarate picked up an unnecessary yellow card for arguing with the referee which would see him miss the next game. In such a situation, a draw at San Siro would certainly feel like a victory for the Biancocelesti.
Genoa did create several chances throughout the match, but nothing came out of them as Muslera was tested only once. None of the players really stood out in the game. Some might claim that Bocchetti’s straight red was a bit harsh. The talented youngster will be unavailable for the clash against a plucky Bari side, which makes matters difficult for Coach Gian Piero Gasperini. But Il Grifone wouldn’t be shedding too many tears over this result. Even though they have slipped down to 10th spot, they still remain just one point short of Europa League place. Gasperini has been linked with Juventus to replace under-fire Ciro Ferrara. But the tactician has played down the rumors and is concentrating on the European clash against Valencia on Thursday.
Lazio 1-0 Genoa – Kolarov 39
Lazio (3-4-1-2): Muslera – Siviglia, Stendardo, Radu – Lichtsteiner (Scaloni 86), Brocchi (Del Nero 18), Firmani, Kolarov – Meghni – Rocchi, Zarate
Genoa (3-4-3): Scarpi – Biava, Moretti, Bocchetti – Rossi, Juric, Milanetto (Zapater 35), Criscito – Mesto (Palacio 46), Sculli, Palladino (Papastathopoulos 68)
Lazio – Genoa
3 – Corners – 7
10 (2) – Shots (on target) – 8 (1)
20 – Fouls – 25
3 (0) – Yellow cards (Red) – 5 (1)
1 – Offside – 1