Slovenia international strikes to dent aspirations of Champions League hopefuls after dismissals of Matuzalem and Alvaro GonzalezChampions League contenders Lazio suffered a setback in their 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 Diamante 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 Matuzalem and Alvaro Gonzalez.
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 Diamante 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 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.
Diamante 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 football, keeping 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 visiting keeper Jean Gillet.
The hosts were left to rue this miss with Bologna, as Krhin's ball bamboozled the home defence and keeper Marchetti who came rushing out to clear, with the chance falling to Diamante who finished coolly into an empty net.
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 Diamante which resulted in a straight red card.
In the second half, the home side were given a life line as a lack of communication between Matteo Rubin and keeper Gillet saw the defender put through his own net to bring the match to life.
The whirlwind encounter took another turn, this time in favour 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, as Lazio looked to yet grab 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 continue to move clear of the relegation zone and push for a top 10 finish.