Lazio and AS Roma missed out on European play this season, but that didn’t keep both sides from playing with the intensity one would expect from the fierce rivals squaring off for the first time in the Coppa Italia final.
Both clubs battled, but Lazio took advantage of a 71st-minute scoring effort to pull away to a 1-0 victory and a massive win over their Coppa counterparts.
The opening minutes of the match featured plenty of action from both sides. Along with five shots in the first 11 minutes, the start of the match also featured a yellow card apiece for the two sides, setting the tone for what would prove to be a physical—albeit somewhat sloppy—affair.
But with 20 minutes played and several chances from both clubs, the match remained scoreless, due in large part to some mental mistakes and poor accuracy on some good scoring opportunities. As Tancredi Palmeri pointed out on Twitter, part of the sloppy start could have also been due to a timid approach to the match:
Neither side seemed focused enough on playing its style of football. In the 32nd minute, the fourth yellow card of the match was handed out, this time to Lazio's Hernanes after a vicious challenge.
As Footie News & Gossip detailed on Twitter, that kind of play seemed to dominate the early going, and the result was a little less than the quality some expected coming in to the final:
With nearly 40 minutes in the books, Lazio and Roma had combined for four shots on target and five yellow cards, and it looked like it would take a long halftime for the sides to cool off and reestablish a game plan for playing a winning brand of football. The first half looked more like a brawl than an organized attempt at putting goals on the board (via PreciseNewsofSoccer):
But for all the physicality in the first half, Roma held the edge in both aggressiveness and form on the attack. In the final minute before the half, they just missed on an opportunity to take a huge 1-0 advantage on a Mattia Destro header off a cross from inside the box. The attempt just missed the mark, however, and both sides would be forced to regroup.
With 45 minutes down, the statistics looked fairly even, though. It would take some order in the attacking end for either club to take the advantage of its opportunities in the second half of play (via Football Planet):
The second half began right where the first half ended. Neither club seemed any more focused on establishing order at either end. Unfortunately, only injuries highlighted the early minutes of the second half (via TNC Serie A):
Ledesma appeared to hyperextend his left knee and was forced off on a stretcher. That change brought in first captain Stefano Mauri, but the substitution didn’t seem to have much of an impact for Lazio. Roma were still the aggressors on the attack, and Francesco Totti nearly opened things up in the 59th minute with an attempt that sailed just over the crossbar (via TNC Serie A):
Lazio would answer back in the 68th minute with a chance of their own, however. As the minutes ticked away in the second half, both clubs picked up the intensity in an attempt to break the scoreless tie and seal the Coppa Italia victory.
The following minutes would be a back-and-forth affair that saw several attempts at both ends. With 70 minutes in the books, the clubs had combined for 25 total shots and eight attempts on target.
For as slow as both clubs played in the first half, the final third of play made up for all of it, and it started with a goal that would break the match wide open.
In the 71st minute, Lazio finally got on the board when an Antonio Candreva attempt was blocked by Bogdan Lobont, who deflected the shot out to Senad Lulic for a terrific put-back and the 1-0 lead (via 101 Great Goals):
Lulic was later booked for holding, but the damage was done. It would be up to Roma to manage an equalizer or be left to walk off the pitch with their first loss to Lazio in a Coppa Italia final.
Totti almost managed just that in the 73rd minute with a free kick that appeared to have almost crossed the line. Federico Marchetti made the save, but Roma couldn’t have come any closer to bringing the score back to even.
That scoring chance had to have been particularly heartbreaking for Roma considering their lack of opportunities to follow. Lazio turned up the heat at the defensive end and continued applying pressure with the 1-0 advantage, effectively squashing any chance of seeing a tied contest in the final minutes.
More yellow cards (and one red) would be shown before the match’s completion, but none were consequential enough to alter the outcome of the contest. Ultimately, it was Lazio’s late second-half turnaround and added aggression that made the difference in the Coppa Italia final.
Lulic was the hero in the contest, netting the eventual match-winning goal in the 71st minute. Despite a strong performance from Lobont in Roma’s net, his efforts went unrewarded as his club failed to capitalize at the other end of the pitch.
The season is over for Lazio and Roma, but neither club should be disappointed with the finish. It was an intense and exciting affair with plenty of intrigue—which is exactly what makes the Coppa Italia so compelling.