Slovenia international strikes to dent aspirations of Champions League hopefuls after dismissals of Matuzalem and Alvaro GonzalezChampions League contender Lazio suffered a setback in its hopes for a top three finish following a 3-1 defeat by Bologna at Stadio Olimpico in Sunday evening’s Serie A encounter.
Goals from Daniele Portanova, Alessandro Diamanti and Rene Krhin were enough to help the visitors win, and consequently build a sizeable advantage over their fellow relegation rivals this season.
The result was a fair reflection as the Rossoblu were the dominant side in an encounter which was marred by two Lazio red cards for Francesco Matuzalem and Alvaro Gonzalez.
Lazio coach Edy Reja continued to be hampered by the club’s lengthy casualty list as a host of first team players remained on the sidelines. Also absent were suspended duo Giuseppe Biava and Lionel Scaloni, who were subsequently replaced by Andre Dias and Luciano Zauri in defencs. Meanwhile in attack, top scorer Miroslav Klose was supported by trident Stefano Mauri, Alejandro Gonzales and influential playmaker Hernanes.
Bologna head coach Stefano Pioli sprung a surprise in attack with veteran forward Marco Di Vaio rested as Robert Acquafresca came into the lineup.
The opening minutes of the match were scrappy, with neither side willing to commit numbers in the pursuit of the opening goal.
The first chance of note came from Alessandro Diamanti, who passed Javier Garrido with ease to strike a fierce effort which resulted in a corner.
From the resulting corner, Andrea Raggi’s flick on led to Daniele Portanova bringing a smart stop out of home custodian Federico Marchetti only for the defender to react first and squeeze the ball over the line to break the deadlock and send the away supporters into raptures.
The opening goal sparked the contest into life, with the home side looking to re-assert itself into the reckoning for European football next season.
Diamanti continued to be a menace for the Biancocelesti as his direct corner hit the bar, much to the surprise of Marchetti.
The Rossoblu produced an outstanding half of soccer, as they kept plenty of men behind the ball and were happy to counter when the chance arose. Brazilian playmaker Hernanes was ineffectual as Rene Krhin exemplified his team’s work ethic in the match, breaking up the home team’s attack and building his own.
Lazio did burst into life just after the half hour mark as captain Mauri brought down a high ball from Matuzalem to only be denied by the outstretched toe of visting keeper Jean Gillet.
The home side was left to rue this miss with Bologna, led by Krhin, whose ball bamboozled the home defense and keeper Marchetti, who came rushing out to clear the ball, which then fell to Diamanti who finished coolly into an empty net.
The Bologna game plan worked perfectly in the first half as it nullified the threat of the Lazio midfield and as a result, Klose was anonymous.
As the first half came to a close, a moment of madness ensued as a frustrated Matuzalem, trying to shield the ball, lashed out at Diamanti which resulted in a straight red card.
The second half followed a similar pattern, with Bologna dictating the flow of play and the Lazio natives growing restless.
Klose came to life shortly after the half began to bring a low save out of Gillet and suggest the home side could yet still get something from the encounter.
In the 55th minute, the home side was given a life line as a lack of communication between Matteo Rubin and keeper Gillet saw the defender put the ball through his own net to bring the match to life.
The whirlwind encounter took another turn, this time in favor of Bologna as makeshift defender Alvaro Gonzalez scythed down Gaston Ramirez, which resulted in yet another red card to leave the hosts with nine men.
The resulting free kick – which was just outside the area – failed to beat the wall but fell to midfielder Krhin who hit a sweetly struck drive to get the goal his performance deserved.
The remainder of the match was played in contrasting spirits; Lazio looked to salvage something from the game while Stefano Pioli’s men were happy to play the match out without taking any further risks.
The result hampers Lazio’s quest for a top three spot while Bologna continues to move clear of the relegation zone and push for a top ten finish.