Lazio 2-1 Juventus: Biancocelesti Turn It Around at the Olimpico (Coppa Italia Semi-Finals, First Leg)

Coppa Italia 2008-09 - SF L1 - Lazio vs. Juventus

At the end of a day dominated by controversy (post-Inter vs. Roma ripples), legal affairs (president Claudio Lotito being indicted) and managerial complaints (Mourinho’s rant), it was nice to see a bit of footy action at Stadio Olimpico Tuesday. And for our greatest delight Lazio vs. Juventus ended up being a vibrant and entertaining match

For the first leg of Coppa Italia‘s Semi-finals, the result was 2-1 to the Biancocelesti: they came back from Marchionni‘s goal with tallies by Pandev and Rocchi, who in Zarate’s absence (suspended) made a key difference among Lazio ranks. Things are still very much open for the second leg (April 22) and Juve will have the opportunity to turn the result around at that time, hoping to field their first half team (not the one overrun by Lazio in the second half).

Lazio forward Goran Pandev, not seen in background, is congratulated by fellow team members after scoring a goal during their first leg semifinal Italian Cup soccer match against Juventus at Rome's Olympic stadium, Tuesday, March 3, 2009. (AP Photo)

Coppa Italia 2008-09 - SF L1 - Lazio 2-1 Juventus

There was plenty of action right from the start, Vincenzo Iaquinta in particular looking fully energized and motivated: the striker was as jumpy as he was active, trying to shoot whenever he spotted an opening in the Biancocelesti’s defence. Lazio responded with very dangerous sudden darts towards the area by Rocchi: one of his volleys on the turn was spectacular but too central; Manninger held it safely.

The tempo was high, with play going from end to end. Good, enjoyable football. The attacks were getting the better of the defences and the teams were giving it everything, not saving any forces for their upcoming Serie A encounters. It was refreshing, especially for an usually snubbed trophy albeit this being a semi-final match. Iaquinta finally broke through in the 18th minute, exploiting a through ball by Tiago right on the offside line, but the goal was disallowed by the linesman. Dubiously.

Juventus midfielder Marco Marchionni , back to the camera n.32, celebrates with teammates after scoring, during a first leg semifinal Italian Cup soccer match between Lazio and Juventus at Rome's Olympic stadium, Tuesday, March 3, 2009. From left far background, Amauri of Brazil, Mohamed Sissoko of Mali, Vincenzo Iaquinta and Pavel Nedved of the Czech Republic, at right. (AP Photo)

Juve got the goal for the lead anyway through Marco Marchionni, who picked up a bad clearance by the Lazio defense, controlled the ball with his thigh and blasted a left-footed effort towards the net, finding the unfortunate (but winning) deflection of Kolarov to send the ball past Muslera. 1-0 Juventus and the third goal of the season for the Juve right midfielder. Once again an own goal tipped the match in the Bianconeri’s favour, as it had against Napoli in their last Serie A outing.

Defending the Juventus goal this evening was not Buffon: squad rotation left the Azzurri nº1 on the bench, but he was more than ably replaced by Alex Manninger. Stretching to save on Rocchi, then on Ledesma’s free-kick, the Austrian international safeguarded his team’s 1-0 advantage: Lazio attacked with lively verve, but went to the dressing room down a goal at half-time.

Lazio forward Goran Pandev, of Macedonia, at right, scores during a first leg semifinal Italian Cup soccer match between Lazio and Juventus at Rome's Olympic stadium, Tuesday, March 3, 2009. (AP Photo)

Shortly after the second half started, Rossi brought on Mauri for Manfredini: Lazio became even more attack-oriented, and after a quarter of an hour they lifted the tempo. Eventually obtaining their equalizer through Goran Pandev: a left-footer in a goal-mouth scramble, after a great save by Manninger on Lichtsteiner. It was goal nº6 in the Coppa Italia for the Macedonian striker, also the leading goalscorer in the competition. 1-1.

The Biancocelesti continued to push, attacking en masse. Juve looked shaky, and Manninger had to outdo himself against Foggia, finding a helping end from his crossbar on the ex-Cagliari player’s free-kick. Then Mauri came inches wide of the target, with a left-footed half-volley shaving the far post defended by the Austrian goalkeeper.

Eventually however the Biancocelesti’s efforts were rewarded. Inevitably. 10 minutes from time, Stefano Rocchi received a deep pass, sped past Chiellini and tackled the ball in front of Manninger, and it was 2-1 Lazio. The comeback was complete. The finalist will have to be decided in the second leg in Turin.

Lazio forward Tommaso Rocchi reacts after scoring a goal during their first leg semifinal Italian Cup soccer match against Juventus at Rome's Olympic stadium, Tuesday, March 3, 2009. Lazio won 2-1. (AP Photo)


S.S. Lazio
[Match Highlights]
Juventus F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 34’ Marchionni (J), 65’ Pandev (L), 78’ Rocchi (L).
LAZIO (4-4-2): Muslera – Lichtsteiner (80’ De Silvestri), Siviglia, Cribari, Kolarov – Foggia (86’ Brocchi), Ledesma, Matuzalem, Manfredini (54’ Mauri) – Rocchi, Pandev. (bench: Carrizo, Rozehnal, Radu, S.Inzaghi). Coach: D.Rossi.
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Manninger – Grygera, Mellberg, Chiellini, Molinaro – Marchionni, Sissoko (60’ Marchisio), Tiago (70’ Poulsen), Nedved – Amauri (80’ Trezeguet), Iaquinta. (bench; Chimenti, Ariaudo, Salihamidzic, Giovinco). Coach: Ranieri.


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Posted in Coppa Italia, Juventus, Lazio |

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