top of page
  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

The King is back

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

2022-23 Season

Conference League

Knockout Round Play-offs

February 16, 2023

Rome. Stadio Olimpico

Lazio CFR Cluj 1-0

Magnificent goal from Immobile gives Lazio a deserved win. The Biancocelesti were forced to play with ten men following a ridiculous refereeing decision.

The team

Maurizio Sarri opts for a minimal turnover and gives the keys of the goal to Luis Maximiano and the keys of midfield to Marcos Antonio. As a consequence Matias Vecino takes the place of Luis Alberto. Manuel Lazzari is preferred over Adam Marusic and Patric replaces injured Alessio Romagnoli. Ciro Immobile is in the centre of the attack

The match

Lazio start strongly and Cluj are immediately on the defensive. In the 4th minute there is a one-two Vecino-Immobile, Vecino has a difficult chance on the far left of the penalty area, his shot is however very wide.

In the 8th minute a big chance for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Elseid Hysaj crosses into the box from the left, the big Serb stops the ball with his chest and shoots but directly towards the Cluj goalkeeper.

In the 15th minute the major game changer. Ermal Krasniqi takes the ball off Lazzari, then moves past Milinkovic-Savic, Marcus Antonio and Nicolò Casale. . At this point Patric decides to prevent the Kosovarian from being dangerous and fouls him. Referee Craig Pawson shows the Spaniard a red card.

No way was that a red card foul. It was not a goal scoring possibility and Patric was not the last man standing. Furthermore the Cluj player was moving off towards the right and not to the centre, so there was no justification for the sending off. A yellow card would have been the right decision.

Unfortunately Sarri is forced to take Marcos Antonio off the field and throw on Mario Gila. Lazio changes to a more cautious 4-4-1 with Felipe Anderson and Mattia Zaccagni on the midfield wings. It takes the Biancocelsti a few minutes to get things organised, but Cluj are never dangerous.

Lazio take control and start manoeuvring in attack but it takes them a while to become effective. In the 45th minute Felipe Anderson tries to get the ball to Milinkovic-Savic on the right of the penalty box but fails. The ball gets back to him and he moves into the box. Back heel pass to Milinkovic-Savic who shoots at the goalkeeper, again.

In the third minute of injury time there is a free kick for Lazio. Felipe Anderson chips the ball over the wall towards Immobile who with a mighty volley gives Lazio a deserved lead. Great pass, magnificent goal. The King is back.

Second half

It’s a rather quiet second half. Lazio seem to be content with controlling the game, Cluj just do not have the strength to create anything particularly dangerous. All Maximiano has to do is merely be careful not to make any mistakes and anticipate the Romanian forwards on the high balls.

Lazio do have a couple of chances. In the 55th minute Felipe Anderson advances on the counter attack and passes the ball to Milinkovic-Savic. The Serb sets up Zaccagni for the Italian’s classic play but there are too many players in the box. Zaccagni at this point intelligently lobs the ball over the Cluj defence and it’s in a perfect position for a Serbian whack, outside the box but central. But Sergej decides on placing the ball and it’s a simple save for Simone Scuffet.

In the 65th minute corner for Lazio. Zaccagni, finally, manages to get in a good cross and Vecino heads the ball towards the far post. Felipe Anderson is ready for the tap in but he is preceded first by Scuffet, who manages to touch the ball, and then by Camora who saves on the line.

Nothing else happens and Lazio have the advantage. The return match will be held in a week's time and it will certainly be a different game.

Referees in Europe this year

Ridiculous penalty given to Feyernood in the first Europa League game, ridiculous Lazzari sending off in the fourth, ridiculous goal allowed to Feyernood in the last group game which meant that Lazio were relegated to Conference League plus today’s controversial decision. Are the UEFA refs trying to tell us something? Or are they just plain awful?

Who played for Lazio

Maximiano, Lazzari, Casale, Patric, Hysaj (60' Marusic), Milinkovic-Savic, Marcos Antonio (18' Gila), Vecino, Felipe Anderson (82' Cancellieri), Immobile (60' Pedro), Zaccagni.

Substitutes: Magro, Provedel, Pellegrini, Cataldi, Luis Alberto, Basic, Bertini.

Manager: Sarri

Who played for CFR Cluj

Scuffet, Manea, Matias, Burca, Camora, Deac (46' Petrila), Boateng (46' Cvek), Muhar (61' Hoban), Krasniqi, Yeboah (83' Janga), Birligea (61' Malele).

Substitutes: Balgradean, Billong, Tiru, Kolinger, Bordeianu, Braun, Fica.

Manager: Petrescu.

Referee: Pawson (UK)

Goal: 45’ + 3’ Immobile

Bookings: Zaccagni, Boateng, Milinkovic-Savic, Matias, Hysaj, Hoban

Sent off: Patric


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page