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  09/11/2013: Report: Lazio - Apollon Limassol
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It was a crucial game for Lazio in the Europa League as Apollon Limassol had managed to stand against Lazio in Cyprus. The current turbulence around Lazio had brought even more tension to the game and if there was anyone that should have been nervous ahead of the game it had to be Petkovic. The coach needed a win after a poor start to the season and a depressive 2-0 loss to Genoa on Sunday. Voices were raised that a loss for Lazio would result in the end of Petkovic at the Olimpico bench. When the 90 minutes came to an end Floccari had brought Lazio a lot closer to knock-out stages of EL, while Petkovic could look ahead at Parma.

In 15 games this season Lazio have not been able to field the same two starting line-ups in consecutive games and again Changes were made to comfort the need brought on by injuries and other reasons keeping players outside the starting eleven. Konko made his return after a lengthy injury, Berisha got his first game in the Lazio shirt and Keita was again used in the EL.

The ex-Barcelona youth player has become the EL star of Lazio and also on this evening he was one of few that will be praised. On the first goal, that fell after only 13 minutes, Keita dribbled to the left and despite holding on to the ball a Little too long his poor pass inside the area ended up at Floccari's feet and the Italian striker easily toed the ball behind Bruno Vale.

Lazio did hold on to the ball and the Cypriots had to defend despite being one goal down. Pressure came from left and right, through Candreva and Keita, while Ederson went missing with yet another lacklustre performance. The defenders had little to do and when Keita sent a corner that Floccari nicely headed home for 2-0 the game looked sealed and done. With ten minutes left there was even a possibility to go for a third goal and truly Close the game.

Cana wanted differently though. In one of many common lapses of concentration that the Albanian undergoes in more or less every game he sent the ball through the centre of the pitch in an attempt to pass the ball to a team mate. The pass was poor and the team was pushing up so Papoulis was left with an easy finish and Berisha had been forced to allow his first goal without having had the chance to make a first qualified save.

The second half became an anxious half for Lazio. In an attempt to not expose the team and suffer an equaliser the Lazio players behaved just the way they have been behaving all season. No will, no desire and no idea. Petkovic tried to get the team going but the lack of a coherent game plan and a team under pressure lead to a Lazio that gave Apollon the chances needed to get at least a point. Lazio had chances during the first few minutes of the half, but the best goal scoring opportunity fell to Papoulis again; only this time Berisha saved the shot.

Towards the end Petkovic tried to bring some stability and inserted Novaretti for Konko and switched to a back line more resembling a back three. If the situation was bad before this situation it became even worse after and Lazio looked like an amateur side against the Islanders. Not that Apollon is not a good team, but in Rome Lazio should be comfortable enough to cruise to victory.

In the end the three pointe were collected and Lazio can now look ahead at two games where on win would be enough to bring the team to the next stages. Trabzonspor are leading the Group with Lazio in second and the game against the Turks will be deciding who the group winner will be.

Line-ups:
Lazio: Berisha; Cavanda, Ciani, Cana, Konko (66' Novaretti); Onazi, Hernanes; Candreva, Ederson (75' Ledesma), Keita (82' Perea); Floccari.
Apollon Limassol: Bruno Vale; Stylianou, Merkis, Karypidis, Vasiliou; Hamdani, Gullòn (85' Konstantinou); Sangoy, Meriem, Papoulis; Roberto Garcia

Author: Khashayar Kashefi
 
 
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