In the first of two games against Milan in less than a week the northerners overcame Lazio with ease this evening, winning the Coppa Italia quarter final in a comfortable manner. Both teams tested new things now that the least of prioritized competitions was taking place and Milan came out stronger in all aspects of the game. Youngster El Shaarawy had a pleasing evening against the new formation tested by Reja; a 3-4-1-2 was the reaction to Radu not being ready for the game and unfortunately for the visitors Milan exploited the weaknesses on the pitch shown by Lazio. Even when most of the firepower available at Reja’s disposal was put on the field his men had a hard time creating anything dangerous, and that is the most worrying sign for the coming rounds in the league as well as in the Europa League.
However, the game started in the best possible way for the visitors. Many had been waiting for the moment Cisse got back to scoring, and just as in the first game of the season the Frenchman got an early goal against Milan, at San Siro. Only five minutes had passed by then and Lazio were in good spirits after the start, but at the back things looked shaky with Diakite, Dias and Stankevicius forming a back line pushing to far up when Milan held possession. In midfield Matuzalem, Gonzalez, Konko, Lulic and Hernanes were running well, but it felt like it was only a matter of time before Milan would get a goal back.
The home team got two. Only ten minutes after the Lazio lead Robinho slotted home a volley behind Marchetti from inside the penalty area after some confusion in the Lazio defense, and three minutes after that Seedorf released a shot unstoppable for the goalkeeper, after a nice flick by El Shaarawy had reached the veteran just outside the penalty area. Lazio tried to respond but never got in behind the defenders in good enough positions to finish off the attempts at attacking Amelia. In the few occasions that the ball did reach goal the stopper did his job, and the two teams walked off with Milan being up 2-1 and simply looking stronger than Lazio from all aspects of the game.
In the second half Reja fielded Ledesma, and later on also Klose, in a try to change things around. The performance on the pitch was frustrating as Lazio never looked dangerous through the second half. Milan was closer to scoring a third goal on more occasions than Lazio ever was getting an equalizer in this game. Cisse fell further and further out to the left, Ledesma looked as arrogant as Ledesma sometimes does, Matuzalem made mistake after mistake and Lulic ran and fought without getting a result out of the attempts. One time did the Bosnian find Klose inside the penalty area with a decent cross, but the German missed the header by miles. Reja had put on everything at his disposal in terms of player options in the game at one point or another, but out on the pitch nothing seemed to work.
On the Milan bench Allegri had chosen to keep his biggest star, Ibrahimovic, but with 20 minutes left the tactician wanted to make sure the game would not go to extra time through a coincidental Lazio goal on a set piece or similar and sent the Swede on to the pitch. With five minutes left on the clock Konko failed to push high enough as the Lazio defenders tried to put the attacker offside and the joint top scorer of Serie A beat Marchetti from close range. The rest of the game was a wait for the final whistle and now the first and second placed teams in the domestic league will play each other in the two-legged semi final. For Lazio the pursuit for a spot in next season’s European competition now relies on finishing high enough to grab a spot from there, with Chievo awaiting on Sunday.
Picture gallery : http://lazioland.com/GallerySub.htm?AlbumId=493
Del Nero: 5.6
Man of the Match: Alvaro Gonzalez
The midfielder had a point to prove after a mistake made him leave the field early on Sunday against Inter. Today he worked hard for 90 minutes and made a great assist on Lazio's goal.
Flop of the Match: Andre Dias
The usually solid centreback struggled today. Has been suffering injuries lately and is clearly not at his best form.
Honourable mention: Simone Del Nero
The Italian who is usually out injured got third apperance this season. Is far from a key player in this team, but his versatility and work rate makes him always give 100% when he is fit.
Todays ratings are provided by: Eivind Ytreland, Boris Pechev, Ed Gill, Juan Botello, Rickard Uppström & Mark van der Enden.