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  23/10/2015: Report: Lazio 3-1 Rosenborg
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Lazio have taken command of Europa League Group G, securing an impressive 3-1 victory over Rosenborg despite playing 85 minutes with only ten men following a 'seriously naive' mistake from Mauricio, as Stefano Pioli put it in his post-match press conference.

The Brazilian defender was sent off in the sixth minute as his failure to control the ball inadvertently put Rosenborg through on goal and sparked an instinctive but late challenge which gave the referee no choice but to issue the red card.

It would be an uphill battle, as Sassuolo proved to be on Sunday, but the opening minutes suggested this was a battle that could be overcome. Prior to the red card, Lazio had hit the woodwork twice in the same action. A Wesley Hoedt header caught the far post and left Stefano Mauri with all of the goal to aim at from close range, and the veteran somehow found the crossbar.

Mauricio's dismissal prompted a reshuffling of the backline with Pioli introducing Santiago Gentiletti with Ogenyi Onazi coming off in his place. It was a substitution that would leave Lazio short of midfield options later in the game when fresh legs would be badly needed, but the Norwegian outfit had come here to attack and Lazio's only chance at victory would be to absorb the pressure and take their opportunities at the other end when they were presented.

And that's exactly what Lazio did. Rosenborg pushed forward looking for the opening goal, and although there were some heart-in-mouth moments at the back, Lazio were able to stifle the visitors and frustrate them when they had possession. In the end, it was Lazio who delivered the first blow. Antonio Candreva fooled three Rosenborg defenders on a forward run, choosing to clip the ball with the outside of his right foot to leave Alessandro Matri through on goal, and the former Juventus forward made no mistake with the finish. 1-0, but still a long way to go.

Lazio's night could have been much longer as Rosenborg were within centimetres of an equalising goal almost immediately. A lapse in concentration from Santiago Gentiletti saw the Argentine gift Rosenborg possession in a dangerous area and some unconvincing defending from his centre-back partner Hoedt left Berisha needing to make a fingertip save from close range. The Albanian did his bit to send Lazio to the locker room one-goal up after 45 minutes, but Rosenborg would rattle the woodwork once more before the half ended, suggesting frailties in the Lazio backline.

It wouldn't matter. Lazio needed only ten minutes of the second half to put enough distance between themselves and Rosenborg. Alessandro Matri turning provider on this one, playing Felipe Anderson in on the edge of the box and the Brazilian conjured up a Matri-esque finish of his own, sidefooting the ball into the bottom left-hand corner. Perhaps we were seeing the beginnings of a tasty little trident here with Candreva, Anderson and Matri linking up to put the 'Troll Kids' to bed?

If only the defence could form some sort of relationship, eh? Rosenborg clawed one back with 20 minutes to go, as Alexander Soderlund connected with a cross from the left-hand side, nodding the ball past Berisha in the Lazio goal. It was a tactic you would encourage the Norwegians to use based on the first half, and it was a tactic they put into action for the remainder of the match. They almost made it 2-2 from an identical situation - Santiago Gentiletti not exactly covering himself in glory in his attempts to win these aerial battles.

Lazio made it 3-1 in the 79th minute. An onrushing Stefan Radu, who is showing good from in Europe, it has to be said, was felled in the penalty area and Antonio Candreva scored with his second bite at the cherry, as his first was saved by André Hansen. It could have been a costly miss, but no damage done.

Rosenborg won a penalty of their own in the dying seconds when Abdoulay Konko mistimed a tackle, but Etrit Berisha was more than equal to the penalty attempt pulling off an incredible save. In a week where Federico Marchetti claimed to have secured his long-term future at the club and reports circulated that 19 year-old Guido Guerrieri is close to making his Lazio debut, it was a welcome opportunity for Fede's understudy. And it proved to be the last hand of the game.

On balance, this was probably Lazio's best performance this season. The team did what they needed to do, and you could ask no more of them. It will be interesting to see how this performance impacts on the Torino encounter. There can be no doubt that Lazio were forced to put more effort into this game than they would have intended to, but it is also likely that they got more positives out of this game than they would've done had they strolled to a comfortable victory with eleven men on the pitch. Should be a good game on Sunday. Forza Lazio!

Player Ratings: Berisha (7.0); Konko (6.5), Hoedt (5.5), Mauricio (3.5), Radu (7.0); Onazi (n/a), Cataldi (6.5); Candreva (7.0), Mauri (6.5), Felipe Anderson (7.0); Matri (8.0). Subs: Gentiletti (5.5), Lulic (6.0), Milinkovic-Savic (n/a).

Author: Cathal Mullan
 
 
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