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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Lazio win despite huge final scare

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Game 14, Serie A

Saturday, December 2, 2023

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Stadio Olimpico

Lazio Cagliari 1-0

A Pedro goal after eight minutes is enough to beat Cagliari in ten men for a hour but Lazio lived far too dangerously at the end.

Official SS Lazio photo

The teams

Lazio had played midweek and had some injury problems too. Both first choice centre-backs Alessio Romagnoli and Nicolò Casale were still injured as was forward Mattia Zaccagni. Maurizio Sarri confirmed nine out of the eleven players who had started against Celtic. The only changes were Pedro instead of Felipe Anderson and Ciro Immobile as centre-forward in place of Taty Castellanos. Compared to the previous league game Daichi Kamada and Danilo Cataldi had also been dropped .

Cagliari were without long term injury Mario Rog and also midfielder Alessandro Di Pardo. The Sardinians however had an abundance of choice and went for Nicolas Viola behind Andrea Petagna and Gianluca Lapadula up front while Nahitan Nández was back but was on the bench.

First half

Lazio started on the attack with a high tempo and a dominant ball possession. Cagliari sat back for now and studied the situation.

After eight minutes Lazio scored. Manuel Lazzari chased a ball down the right wing near the byline but Pantelīs Hatzīdiakos got their first. The Greek then tried to turn with the ball but lost his balance thus losing it to Lazzari who looked up (for once) and squared a low pass into the middle to Pedro who slotted through Simone Scuffet's legs. Lazio 1 Cagliari 0.

The Cagliari defender had either just slipped or maybe defenders in Serie A are so used to getting the foul when challenged near the byline that he was expecting an even slight touch that never came.

Lazio were in control. In the 12th minute Gustav Isaksen won an inviting freekick from a central position just outside the box. The Dane pounced on a hesitant Pantelis Hatzidiakos in possession, stole the ball and was tripped up. Luís Alberto tried to curl it onto the far post but Simone Scuffet dived to his left and parried.

Cagliari showed some signs of life. In the 18th minute Edoardo Goldaniga put in a cross from just outside the area on the right and Gianluca Lapadula pulled away from his marker Patric and got a header in but it went wide. In fact from the replay it was less dangerous than it had appeared.

In the 23rd minute Lazio had a huge chance and Pedro for his double. Isaksen surged forward and defended the ball well at the edge of the box and fed Ciro Immobile on the right who squared into Pedro, the Spaniard sidestepped his marker and shot with his left but Scuffet got a hand to it and saved.

In the 25th minute came a key episode. Isaksen flicked Matteo Guendouzi through on the right unmarked but he was pulled down by his shirt by Antoine Makoumbou. The referee initially booked him but was then called by VAR to have a better look at it. He did and upgraded it to a red as it was considered last man and a goal scoring opportunity.

Lazio one-nil up and now against ten men, could be easy, possibly too easy…

Ranieri waited a few minutes and then made his decisions. Off came Hatzidiakos and Lapadula for Ibrahim Sulemana and Zito Luvumbo. Similar roles but different characteristics.

The game then went flat. Lazio with possession and control but cautious while Cagliari in survival mode waiting for better times. Halftime Lazio 1 Cagliari 0.

A deserved lead for the Biancocelesti but the game had changed after the sending off, Lazio strangely blocked and Cagliari seemingly powerless.

The two game plans were obvious. Lazio's script was to take zero risks, keep possession and hope sooner or later to double while Cagliari's was to stick in there and risk everything in the last 5-10 minutes.

Second half

For the second period Nicolò Rovella was replaced by Danilo Cataldi to speed up the ball distribution. The old fox Ranieri made a change too replacing Nicolas Viola with young talent Gaetano Oristanio.

Lazio were in total control but lacked any cutting edge. Immobile had a chance as he pulled away from his marker on the left but his shot on the far post was wide when he possibly should have passed to an unmarked Isaksen in the middle.

The Biancocelesti started to make some changes: in the 56th minute Luís Alberto pulled up with a muscular problem and was replaced by Kamada while in the 70th Pedro and Immobile came off for Felipe Anderson and Taty Castellanos. Ranieri was waiting for the moment..

Biancocelesti first really big chance came in the 70th minute. Isaksen put in a cutting cross from the right onto the far post where Anderson and then Kamada somehow got it into the middle where Taty Castellanos had a golden opportunity in front of Scuffet but found neither power or precision and managed to hit the keeper.

In the 74th minute another missed chance. Isaksen brilliantly set up Castellanos with only the keeper to beat, the Argentine ran forward but took much time before shooting and his eventual strike was walled into corner by Sulemana with a perfectly timed tackle.

Of the two scripts, Ranieri's favourite was taking shape. In the 83rd both sides made another substitution, Matías Vecino for an excellent Isaksen and Nahitan Nandez for Goldaniga.

Lazio continued to be in control but the one goal lead was making them increasingly uneasy.

In the 88th minute Ranieri decided the moment had come and he threw on a big, physical centre-forward Leonardo Pavoletti to replace midfielder Matteo Prati. Now with two minutes plus injury time Cagliari had three strikers (Luvumbo, Petagna and Pavoletti) and two attacking midfielders (Nandez and Oristanio) and had nothing to lose. Lazio meanwhile had everything to lose and you could see it.

In the 90th minute Adam Marusic cleared the area poorly and the ball reached Nandez and then Luvumbo on the left of the area, he did well to free himself and crossed into the middle where Pavoletti, inexplicably unmarked, coordinated himself and turned a powerful header towards the low left hand corner. It looked like a winner but Ivan Provedel dived down superbly to his right and palmed the ball away. A brilliant stop.

That was Cagliari's moment but Lazio's nerves made sure they had another. In the 94th minute the Rossoblu hoofed the ball up to Petagna who headed forward to the edge of the Lazio box where Lazzari headed back towards Provedel but he hit it too weakly. It was ran onto by Oristanio and, with the keeper rushing off his line, the striker from Campania went for a lob but put it well wide. Potentially lethal but ultimately innocuous. Final score Lazio 1 Cagliari 1.

The referee blew up for full time to whistles of disapproval from the Lazio fans. A classic psychological reaction after going through a scare, for a while the fright takes precedence over the relief of survival.

Three important points however for Lazio but the Biancocelesti will have to improve to mount a serious challenge for next years European slots and steady their nerves.

Cagliari did what they had to. Ranieri's script was perfect but was missing one important detail, the protagonist himself Ivan Provedel.

Who played for Lazio

Provedel, Marusic, Lazzari, Patric, Gila, Guendouzi, Rovella (46' Cataldi), Luis Alberto (56' Kamada), Isaksen (83' Vecino), Immobile (70' Castellanos), Pedro (70' Anderson)

Substitutes: Sepe, Mandas, Pellegrini, Ruggeri, Basic,

Manager: Sarri

Who played for Cagliari

Scuffet, Zappa, Dossena, Goldaniga (83' Nandez), Hatzidiakos (32' Sulemana), Azzi, Prati (88' Pavoletti), Makoumbou, Viola (46' Oristanio), Petagna, Lapadula (32' Luvumbo)

Substitutes: Radunovic, Aresti, Wieteska, Obert, Mancosu, Deiola, Pereira, Jankto, Shomurodov

Manager: Ranieri

Referee: Dionisi

Goal: 8' Pedro

Bookings: Hatzidiakos (C), Nandez (C)

Red card: Makoumbou (C)


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