Monday Aug 21, 2017  
     
 
  05/04/2013: Fenerbahce 2-0 Lazio
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The title reads "Fenerbahce 2-0 Lazio" but the temptation to post "UEFA 2-0 Lazio" was overwhelming. Bitter disappointment was the sentiment yesterday evening as Lazio went down 2-0 to a Fenerbahce side - a scoreline that flatters the pants off the Turkish side.

It was a tense affair all evening and in truth, neither side were able to go through the gears without stuttering. Both sides struggled in the final third of the field although Lazio looked lively every time Ederson touched the football. His presence made the difference against Catania last weekend and with him on the field, Lazio looked the most likely victors, particularly in the first half.

It was a strange opening 45 minutes. Lazio controlled the game in the first 30 and looked good on the ball, yet it was Fenerbahce who posed the greatest threat. The first real chance came via Moussa Sow who fired wide as he left Cana for dead, making it look as though the Albanian had sand in each of his boots. He had a better chance later in the half as Senad Lulic was indecisive in clearing the ball, eventually deciding the best option was to blast it at Pierre Webo. Webo's body directed the ball into the path of Sow and luckily for Lazio, Federico Marchetti was able to direct the ball into the path of his right goalpost.

At the other end, Lulic's pace was causing problems but he was on the backfoot all too often. On the one occasion he did manage to venture forward, he waltzed through the Fenerbahce midfield and waited to play a carefully weighted pass into the path of Ederson who went to ground. No penalty was given, no replay was shown (conveniently) by UEFA's director and there is no mention of this in the report at Football Italia. But it happened.

The most concerning moments came in the closing minutes of the half. Ogenyi Onazi went on a fouling spree that reflected a man whose legs had momentarily developed Tourettes and that saw referee Willie Collum gesticulating like a traffc warden on E, as he indicated the plethora of offences Onazi had committed. There was no flow to the game at this point but Lazio had shown enough to suggest that a win was a possible outcome and Onazi had shown enough to suggest a substitution was necessary.

The substitution never came and within two minutes of the restart, Onazi was given his marching orders after scything down a Fenerbahce player in a rather innocuous area of the field. That decision changed the game, not because Lazio were down to 10 men but because from that moment onwards, Collum delved into his breast pocket like a man with a nipple fetish.

Fenerbahce struggled to find a rhythm in the 30 minutes that followed and with Ledesma and the talismanic Miroslav Klose on the field, optimism was growing. That optimism faded entirely when a penalty was given by the referee, who after consulting with the fifth official decided the right call was to ignore the rulebook. Radu lost an aerial duel and the ball was headed away from goal and against his arm. Clearly unintentional and clearly not preventing a clear goalscoring opportunity. Webo stepped up and sent Marchetti the wrong way.

And Marchetti's night got worse in the dying moments of the game as Caner Erkin, who was a threat from the moment he entered the fray, smashed a free-kick on goal that Marchetti could only par away to the onrushing Dirk Kuyt who did the rest. It capped off a poor evening for the Lazio stopper as he spent most of the night spilling balls as if Michel Platini had been in town and had taken a can of WD40 to his gloves.

For the Lazio faithful, Moussa is surely not the only Sow whose influence they witnessed last night. Personally, I am not in favour of moaning about refereeing decisions - Lazio were more than a match for Fenerbahce - but you can make a case that the result was fair. Despite this, the loss feels like the result of a larger conspiracy. I cannot condone anti-Platini banners and cannot truly argue that our punishment from UEFA has been disproportionate but I can certainly go on record and say that the amount of refereeing decisions going against us since the turn of the year is difficult to accept. Some will call it the balancing out of luck and some will flat out say it is a plan to keep us out of Europe and away from silverware in general.

Regardless, we must look ahead to Roma, which is for many fans a much, much bigger game. Given the effort that went into last night's game, there will be tired legs on show and Vladimir Petkovic will have some big calls to make. He will be hoping at no stage does the game turn into 12 v 10.


Author: Cathal Mullan
 
 
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