Stendardo 68, Zarate 88
The Biancocelesti enjoyed the perfect start to a new era with a rare win away from home against a Parma side brimming with confidence after an impressive mid-week draw against league leaders Inter.
Both sides came into the match off the back of difficult spells. Lazio dismissed Coach David Ballardini following a 1-0 home defeat to Catania last week – the Biancocelesti have won only once on the road all season and find themselves languishing in the bottom three facing the real prospect of relegation. After a good start to their campaign Parma have struggled in the second half of the season, the draw against Inter acting as a rare highlight in a dismal run of seven games without a win.
A depleted Parma team missing Francesco Valiani to suspension and Hernan Crespo and Blerim Dzemaili to injury started brightly. On another night Luis Jimenez may have won his side a penalty in the opening minutes after a blatant shirt-pull from Giuseppe Biava. The Ducali would have been 1-0up on 21 minutes had it not been for a woeful miss by Jonathan Biabiany. After good work from Luca Antonelli on the by-line and with an open goal looming in front of him, the French Under-21 international inexplicably shot wide from six yards, the Lazio fans could be forgiven for thinking new boss Reja is a man blessed with the air of good fortune that surrounds some Coaches.
Despite Parma’s early openings it was Lazio that had the upper hand in the first half. Cristian Ledesma put in a dominant performance in the middle of the park on his return to the side after eight months of contract disputes. As the half wore on le Aquile’s control of midfield and clear motivation to impress their new Coach limited the home side to counter-attacks. Guglielmo Stendardo also had a fine game at the back thwarting numerous Parma attacks with a series of well-timed challenges.
The away side took the early impetus in the second half pushing men forward in a bid to break the deadlock. There was little between the sides in the early stages of the half until a controversial incident around the hour mark. Lazio’s players were screaming for a penalty when Massimo Paci appeared to handle the ball on the line following a corner. Replays later suggested the ball had crossed the line. Moments later justice was done though when an unmarked Stendardo headed in from another corner in the 63rd minute.
The chances of a Parma fight-back were severely diminished when Jiminez was given his marching orders on 73 for dissent. Lazio almost doubled their lead shortly afterwards when Sergio Floccari latched on to a loose back-pass from Stefano Morrone. Mauro Zarate was denied a simple chance when Floccari fired wide rather than pass it to the unmarked Argentinean. Floccari and Zarate did link up effectively on 88 to put the result beyond doubt with Zarate tapping in at the near post from a Floccari cross.
In his post-match comments Edy Reja revealed his words to the team before the match: “I asked the lads to fight for every ball. I wasn’t all that interested in how they moved it around and engaged in the tactics. I wanted to see a determined side.” If performances like yesterday’s are to be the hallmarks of the Reja era, Lazio have every chance of pulling themselves out of the perilous position they find themselves in.