Sunday Apr 30, 2017  
     
 
  23/08/2015: Report: Lazio 2-1 Bologna
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A master and an apprentice separated Lazio from Bologna as a fine Lucas Biglia strike and an instinctive Ricardo Kishna finish on debut was enough to fend off the challenge of Delio Rossi and Bologna on Saturday night as Lazio ran out comfortable 2-1 winners.

Delio Rossi said in his pre-match press conference that he expected a touch of arrogance from Lazio in this game given the previous season's exploits, and Lazio certainly treated Bologna as if the Romans thought this would be a walk in the park, although the narrow margin of victory will keep Pioli's men grounded as they venture to the BayArena.

Lazio dominated the opening stages and were more than happy to indulge in some patient build-up play and bide their time, while Bologna were turning in the performance of a rubber band with a manufacturer fault - any time I Rossoblu were stretched, they looked like snapping. Antonio Candreva was the first to test the waters, meandering his way to the edge of the box and giving Antonio Mirante a confidence boost with a timid shot. Minutes later, Ricardo Kishna looked to put Candreva through on goal as poor marking left the Italian free to latch onto the Dutchman's dinked cross, but nothing came of the opportunity.

Soon after, Bologna snapped. Lazio are a well-oiled machine these days and the first goal was a manager's dream. A well-worked play ended with Candreva on the edge of the box waiting and waiting for Dusan Basta's overlapping run. The Serbian took a hold of the ball and whipped in a cross that Bologna were incapable of dealing with, and Lucas Biglia arrived to guide the ball past Mirante. 1-0 and Lazio were in cruise control.

The second goal was something of a mirror image of the first - the opposite flank now and Antonio Candreva once again. It's whipped in and surprise, surprise, Bologna make a hash of the clearance allowing Kishna to set his feet and blast home on his debut. Lazio were two goals to the good, and you could not see a way back for Bologna.

Stefano Pioli's Lazio, however, have a habit of making their opponents see a way back into the game. Pioli went on record before the game in identifying game management as the one area for improvement this season, so he'll be unhappy with how the rest of the game played out. Shortly after conceding the second, Bologna won a free-kick in a dangerous area, on which the wall parted like the Red Sea, enabling Franco Brienza's weak effort to needlessly find Etrit Berisha. It is quite possible that the divide in the wall was a deliberate ploy, but it gave Bologna a glimmer of hope.

Hope soon turned into belief as Bologna clawed a goal back. Stefan de Vrij and Lucas Biglia pushed themselves high up the pitch to try and win back possession on an innocuous throw-in only for Candreva to gift the ball back to Franco Brienza, who put Matteo Mancosu in a one-on-one situation with Stefan Radu. The Romanian was mugged by the veteran striker who, having made a name for himself in the lower divisions, joined Kishna in scoring on his Serie A debut with an emphatic finish. A sloppy goal that would bring Lazio down to earth for the second half.

The second half began on a sour note. Lucas Biglia had to be taken off with a calf injury that left the Argentine in tears and calls into question our handling of his fitness. These things happen in football, but when these things happen to a player who was risked when less than 100% last season, who went to the Copa America injured and was given a short pre-season to be readied for the Supercoppa and Champions League play-off, it is quite difficult to put it down as one of those things. The severity of the injury will be determined in the coming days - it will either be an absence of a few weeks or a few months.

Lucas Biglia could be sorely missed for the second leg of the Champions League play-off if the performance of his deputy is anything to go by. Danilo Cataldi came on and a dangerous pass was intercepted by Matteo Mancosu, who could have doubled his tally had he got the ball out from under his feet sooner.

The game was beginning to fizzle out but Lazio continued to push forward for the third, unperturbed by the odd moments of madness at the back. A Kishna delivery gave Senad Lulic the opportunity to score Lazio's third, but the Bosnian international was thwarted. Not long afterwards, Kishna threatened to bag his second but had his shot blocked by Marios Oikonomou. Bologna now looked short of fuel, and limiting Lazio to half-chances appeared to be the best they could do as the game drew to a close.

With a narrow lead and only minutes to go, most Serie A managers look for that centre-back and sacrifice an attacking player but we know by now that Stefano Pioli likes to throw on someone with pace, sit back, and counter. Felipe Anderson came on and applied further pressure to a cramping Bologna side, but he was unable to do any real damage. There were tired legs in defence now and some clumsy fouls allowed Bologna to creep back into the game. An opportunity arose in stoppage time with Franco Brienza capitalising on a delivery that left the Lazio defence in disarray, but his effort failed to make it through all the bodies.

This was the easiest game of the season on paper, and although Lazio controlled the game in a manner that suggested Serie A games don't come much easier, Pioli will surely be disappointed that Bologna remained in a position to take something from the game for 90 minutes. The obvious positive, however, was the performances of Keita Balde Diao and Ricardo Kishna who both staked a claim for a starting berth against Leverkusen. On to Germany we go. Forza Lazio!

Player Ratings: Berisha (6.0); Basta (6.0), de Vrij (6.5), Gentiletti (6.5), Radu (6.0); Parolo (6.0), Biglia (6.5), Lulic (6.5); Candreva (6.5), Keita (7.0), Kishna (7.0). Cataldi (6.0), Milinkovic-Savic (5.5), Felipe Anderson (n/a).
Author: Cathal Mullan
 
 
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