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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten


Updated: Jun 7, 2023

2022-23 Season

Conference League

Knockout Round Play-offs

February 23, 2023

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Stadionul Dr. Constantin Radulescu, Cluj-Napoca

CFR Cluj Lazio 0-0

Lazio avoid problems and safely go through to the knock out stage of the Conference League

The team

Maurizio Sarri has to deal with a number of problems. Missing Patric (suspended), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Mattia Zaccagni (flu), Alessio Romagnoli and Pedro (injured), he is forced to reinvent the team. Luis Maximiano is in goal, GIla in defence, Toma Basic and Matias Vecino at midfield and Luka Romero in attack.

This is not the only issue. The pitch is in terrible conditions and Lazio will certainly have problems in developing their usual game.

The match

The two teams start slowly and Lazio take a while to figure out how to play on this pitch.

In the 17th minute Manuel Lazzari crosses from the right, Luis Alberto heads the ball on the near post, Simone Scuffet saves into corner. Three minutes later the first opportunity for Cluj and it’s a colossal one. Nicolò Casale mistakenly passes the ball to Cephas Malele who immediately gives it to Ermal Krasniqi. Gila slips, the Kosovarian shoots, but the ball is wide.

In the 28th minute Luis Alberto to Felipe Anderson who has a completely free left wing to run down. Once in the box he crosses low, Ciro Immobile misses the shot and Basic is so surprised that he cannot control it.

In the 36th minute Karlo Muhar is booked and in the 37th there is a clear penalty for Lazio. Immobile is fouled in the box by Denis Kolinger, but the referee books Ciro for play acting. Still not lucky with refs in Europe this year.

Second half

Lazio seem to play a bit better in the second half and Cluj are often on the defensive. In the 53rd minute Luis Alberto tries to surprise Scuffet from a corner kick. The ball is sent into the top left corner, the Italian goalkeeper saves with difficulty. In the 61st minute the Spaniard tries again from a corner, this time on the other post. Scuffet can’t get to it, Rangelo Janga saves on the line.

Between the two corners, Cluj have another chance in the 54th minute. On the counter attack, Janga passes to Krasniqi who does not find the right moment to shoot and eventually kicks wide.

In the 63rd minute Lazio have four incredible chances in seven seconds. Gila crosses from the right, the ball is deflected and goes up in the air, Janga heads the ball back but it reaches Vecino who promptly shoots but he is walled by Cristian Manea. Casale now has a chance but Scuffet saves. Ball to Vecino but Scuffet saves again. Gila heads towards Vecino, wide. Should have been a goal there.

In the 77th minute Muhar gets a second booking for a foul on Immobile and is sent off. In the 88th massive chance for Cluj to go to extra time. Christopher Braun crosses into the box from the right, the ball gets to Emmanuel Yeboah, unmarked, who cannot make a decent contact. In the second minute of injury time Basic shoots from thirty metres, ball only just wide.

Game over. Lazio after five years manage to win a knockout match in Europe. The last time they did so was in 2018 against Dynamo Kyiv in the Europa League Round of 16.

They will now have to face AZ Alkmaar.

Official SS Lazio Photo

Who played for CFR Cluj

Scuffet, Manea (84' Braun), Kolinger, Burca, Camora;, Deac (78' Hoban), Cvek, Muhar, Krasniqi (84' Petrila), Malele (70' Birligea), Janga (84' Yeboah).

Substitutes: Gal, Balgradean, Tiru, Bordeianu, Fica.

Manager: Petrescu.

Who played for Lazio

Maximiano, Lazzari, Gila, Casale, Hysaj, Luis Alberto (76' Cataldi), Vecino, Basic, Romero (66' Cancellieri), Immobile, Felipe Anderson.

Substitutes: Provedel, Renzetti, Marusic, Pellegrini, Floriani Mussolini, Ruggeri, Marcos Antonio, Bertini.

Manager: Sarri

Referee: Zwayer

Bookings: Casale, Muhar, Immobile, Deac, Cvek

Sent off: Muhar


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