Juventus vs. Lazio: Score, Grades and Reaction from Coppa Italia Final

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2015

Juventus' Fernando Torres Llorente, center, tries to dribble past Lazio's Senad Lulic, left, and Lazio's Stefan Radu during their Italian Cup soccer final match between Lazio and Juventus at Rome's Olympic stadium, Wednesday, May 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

It had been 20 years since Juventus last won a Coppa Italia title, but that drought finally came to an end Wednesday as the Serie A champs defeated Lazio 2-1 in a competitive final at Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Alessandro Matri's 97th-minute goal in extra time established Juventus as the most successful squad in Coppa Italia history, according to Squawka Football:   

Squawka Football @Squawka

Juventus win the Coppa Italia for the first time since 1995 and their 10th in total, more than any other side. http://t.co/qmxNIgr9tA

Juve now have an opportunity to make history by taking the treble with a win over FC Barcelona in the Champions League final, while Lazio were denied their second Coppa Italia championship in three years.

The match started off in spectacular fashion as Lazio jumped out to an early lead by virtue of a goal from defender Stefan Radu in the fourth minute.

It was a surprising tally for the 28-year-old Romanian, to say the least, as he hadn't scored a goal in 24 Serie A contests prior to his marker Wednesday. His skill was on full display, though, as a pinpoint header beat Juventus goalkeeper Marco Storari high and to the right.

According to Forza Italian Football on Twitter, Radu's goal was the quickest in a Coppa Italia final in six years:

ForzaItalianFootball @SerieAFFC

Radu's goal was the fasted in the #CoppaItaliaFinal since Zarate in 2009, also for #Lazio

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Unfortunately for the Biancocelesti, their lead was short-lived as the Vecchia Signora answered with a defender goal of their own seven minutes later. Giorgio Chiellini made a diving acrobatic move toward a loose ball in the box and managed to fire it past Etrit Berisha to even the score at 1-1.

Chiellini was an equally unexpected scorer as Radu, which prompted Paolo Bandini of the Guardian to highlight many of the talented goalscorers who were far more likely candidates to find the back of the net:

Paolo Bandini @Paolo_Bandini

Tevez, Klose, Felipe Anderson and Pogba all on the same pitch. So of course, 2 goals in 10 mins scored by Radu and Chiellini

Per Sky Sports Statto, both Juventus and Lazio are high-quality attacking teams, yet they each received goals from players who contributed very little in that regard during the season:

Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto

Juventus & Lazio had scored 178 goals between them this season - none were from tonight's Cup Final scorers Radu & Chiellini

With that said, Chiellini has been something of a thorn in Lazio's side over the years, so perhaps his score shouldn't have come as a huge surprise.

According to WhoScored.com, Chiellini beats the 'keeper against the Biancazzurri with more regularity than he does against any other club:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Giorgio Chiellini: Has now scored more goals against Lazio (5) than he has against any other team #JuveLazio

Following the initial surge, there weren't many quality opportunities for the remainder of the opening half. They entered the locker room knotted at 1-1, but things seemed to be trending in Juventus' favor.

As beIN Sports' Tancredi Palmeri noted, Lazio went into a defensive shell of sorts after allowing Chiellini to score, which put the Bianconeri in an advantageous position:

Tancredi Palmeri @tancredipalmeri

Juventus-Lazio 1-1 HT. A thrilling start followed by a fearful second part, JUV slowly bringing high the pressure, LAZ dangerously waiting

The break seemed to rejuvenate Lazio, as they were certainly the more potent side for the bulk of the second half. Even so, neither they nor Juventus could find a way to score a decisive second goal in regular time.

While the Champions League finalists appeared to take a 2-1 lead in the 87th minute when substitute Matri scored, the official waved it off with an offside call.

It was an extremely close play, but Matri appeared to be onside based on the instant replay. Fox Soccer was among those who considered it to be a controversial flag:

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

Goal for Juventus waved off! Matri puts the ball in the net but the linesman rules it out. Questionable decision...

That would prove to be the best opportunity for either team for the remainder of the opening 90 minutes, and the match was ultimately forced to go to extra time.

Palmeri believed things were trending in Juventus' direction during the latter stages of the second half after Lazio carried the play for a long stretch:

Tancredi Palmeri @tancredipalmeri

Juventus-Lazio 1-1 FT. Extra-times could be the sentence for LAZ,running out of gas after decent 2nd H. JUV pushing with good changes

Even so, forward Filip Djordjevic, who entered the game in the 83rd minute for Miroslav Klose, very nearly put Lazio ahead in the 95th minute, but his shot remarkably hit both posts without crossing the goal line.

That near miss proved to be costly, as two minutes later, Matri gained retribution for his previously disallowed goal by beating Berisha with a low shot to make it 2-1 in favor of Juve.

Matri's marker proved to be the goal that would decide the Coppa Italia, as Lazio were unable to equalise after 97 minutes of being either tied or ahead.

Juventus' win signals their return to prominence in the Coppa Italia, but it also sets the stage for something far more grand. They now have a great deal of momentum heading toward their highly anticipated Champions League final clash with Barca.

Beating the Spanish juggernaut will be no easy feat, but if they can pull it off, they will join Internazionale as the only Italian clubs to win the European treble.

The Coppa Italia has been placed on the backburner at times for Juventus over the years, but with such a significant accomplishment hanging in the balance, they rose to the occasion.

Key Player Grades

Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus): A

Riccardo De Luca/Associated Press

Chiellini has been one of Lazio's toughest opponents for quite some time, and he proved that once again in the Coppa Italia as he netted a beautiful goal in the 11th minute. The technically sound defender also managed to stand firm against a Lazio attack that was particularly dangerous in the second half of play.

Paul Pogba (Juventus): C-

Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

Juventus entered the Coppa Italia as a heavy favorite against Lazio due largely to their midfield advantage. With Paul Pogba, Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal all in the lineup, Le Zebre should have been able to control the pace throughout. That wasn't the case, though, as Pogba was never in rhythm and was unable to do anything with the scoring opportunities he was afforded.

Stefan Radu (Lazio): A

Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

Prior to departing the game in favor of Mauricio in the 71st minute, Radu was arguably the best player on the entire pitch. In addition to scoring early in the match for Lazio, he played a tidy defensive contest that helped hold dangerous Juventus midfielders such as Pogba, Pirlo and Vidal in check.

Miroslav Klose (Lazio): C+

Riccardo De Luca/Associated Press

While Miroslav Klose should have been Lazio's biggest offensive threat Wednesday, the 36-year-old veteran played his age. He did well in terms of winning headers, which keeps his grade from being significantly lower, but his inability to put even a single shot on frame is a big reason why Juventus was able to come out on top.

Post-Match Reaction

Following such a tightly contested match, it comes as no surprise that the losing manager feels as though bounces played a role in his squad's defeat.

According to Football Italia, Lazio manager Stefano Pioli lamented the fact that an extra-time shot from Djordjevic hit the post twice without going in:

footballitalia @footballitalia

Stefano Pioli: #Lazio “didn’t have luck” in #CoppaItaliaFinal defeat to #Juventus after hitting both posts in one go http://t.co/A8Ws6WMia1

It was undoubtedly an unfortunate moment for Lazio; however, their inability to subsequently keep Juventus off the scoreboard is what ultimately did them in.

On the other side of the ledger, Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri was extremely complimentary of Lazio and their performance. Per Rai Sport (h/t Football Italia), Allegri acknowledged that luck came into play as well:

Lazio had a great game, it was worthy of a final and we knew this would be different from in Serie A. ... We did well, they did well, they were unlucky hitting the woodwork twice in the same move and we were fortunate on our goal. ... Football is made of incidents. Before their upright we had two or three favorable situations we didn't make the most of.

Allegri also verbalized the pride he had in his team for managing to prevail under such tough circumstances, according to Juventus' official Twitter account:

JuventusFC @juventusfcen

.@OfficialAllegri: "My players are extraordinary. Going all the way in three competitions isn't easy. We put in a great display tonight."

Chiellini agreed with Allegri's statement and added that he wasn't ready to look ahead to the Champions League in the wake of such a big win:

JuventusFC @juventusfcen

.@chiellini: "We put in a great performance against a team who caused us problems. We fought and stuck together." #Camp10ni #JuveLazio

Wednesday's match was much tighter than most probably anticipated based on Juventus' run through the Champions League. It wasn't an easy win by any means, and it is clear that everyone involved on the Juve side is grateful they were able to persevere.

They'll need to channel that mettle in order to beat a team of Barcelona's caliber next month as well. While that challenge may seem nearly impossible to some, Juventus have proven their ability to perform under pressure on the big stage.

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.


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