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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Jolly Floccari gives Lazio joy and hope

Updated: Apr 1

Game 20, Serie A

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Lazio Atalanta 2-0

Lazio sub finally breaks down Atalanta's defensive wall and puts Lazio within striking distance of leaders Juventus.

Lazio were on a bit of a roll coming into the game after 6 wins out of the last eight, plus two draws. The week before Lazio had beaten Cagliari 2-1 at home but as this was the first game of the return fixtures they had another game at the Olimpico. There was a certain euphoria in the air after the recent results although there was not a huge crowd, about 30,000.

Atalanta had lost 1-0 away to Chievo the week before, which made it four consecutive away defeats. They were determined not to make it five in a row.

Lazio's goalkeeper Federico Marchetti had got over a rib problem and took his place in the nets as usual. Atalanta had a few defensive absences and immediately threw on new signings Michele Canini and Luigi Giorgi.

When the match got under way it was clear from the start what the pattern would be, the visitors all behind the ball hoping for the occasional counter attack.

Atalanta's defensive wall was unassailable in the first half. Lazio's only shots were long range efforts by Hernanes but they went either wide, high or both. Atalanta, despite defending for long periods with 11 players deep in their own half, actually came the closest to scoring. Their two chances both fell to defender Davide Brivio; his first effort was blocked by bodies in a crowded area and his second forced Marchetti to make a low diving save into corner. A classic tactical Serie A game so far with very little space and few goal scoring opportunities, 0-0 at halftime.

The Lazio manager was obviously not satisfied with what he had seen. The second half saw two replacements come on: Sergio Floccari for Antonio Candreva and Lorik Cana for Senad Lulic. He went for a 3-4-3 formation with Abdoulay Konko pushed forward to midfield. These substitutions would prove crucial, a coincidence or mastermind intuition by Vladimir Petkovic...who knows.

The fact is Cana and Floccari were a lot more active than their teammates. In the 64th minute what looked like a winning header by the Albanian Cana was miraculously cleared off the goal line by German Denis. Not even three minutes later Lazio were ahead. Floccari, who had already gone close a little earlier, this time hit the bar but was there again to put the rebound in the back of the net. In truth he looked as if he had domesticated the ball with his hand before netting and the Atalantini protested furiously but the referee was having none of it, 1-0 to Lazio.

At this point an increasingly hysterical Atalanta started to fall apart, gone was the composure and impenetrable defensive barrier and Lazio soon took advantage. First Konko had a shot well saved by Consigli and then in the 77th minute a seemingly innocuous cross, by Stefano Mauri from about 35 metres out, was headed into his own net by Brivio. Just over 10 minutes to go and 2-0 to Lazio.

There was still time but, considering the Bergamaschi's tactical plan so far, the game was practically dead and buried. The final nail in the Nerazzurri coffin was midfielder Carlos Carmona being sent off in the 83rd minute. Lazio came close to getting a third when a Hernanes free kick hit the crossbar but enough was enough, the wall had already been sufficiently demolished.

An unspectacular win for Lazio but not helped by Atalanta's negative approach and defensive oriented game plan. A vital three points for Lazio. They moved up to second place only three points behind leaders Juventus who had been held to a draw at Parma. At this stage of the season anything was possible.

Who played for Lazio

Substitutes: Bizzarri, Carrizo, Scaloni, Zauri, Stankevicius, Rozzi

Manager: Petkovic

Who played for Atalanta

Consigli, Raimondi, Stendardo, Canini, Brivio, Giorgi (80' Parra), Cigarini, Carmona, Bonaventura, Moralez (74' De Luca), Denis (80' Radovanovic)

Substitutes: Frezzolini, Polito, Matheu, Cazzola

Manager: Colantuono

Referee: Peruzzo

Goals: 67' Floccari, 77' Brivio (o.g)



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