Pre-Match And Team News
Lazio and Sampdoria both advanced to the Coppa Italia final against the odds,
by knocking out their highly fancied opponents in Juventus and Inter
respectively. There was plenty at stake in this clash, as an Italian cup, as
well as a place in next season’s Europa League were on offer for the victor.
The Biancocelesti were
boosted by the return of Goran Pandev and Pasquale Foggia in the lead up to
this match, however they had to do without the services of their Brazilian
midfielder Matuzalem, who missed out through suspension. Meanwhile, the
Blucerchiati welcomed back their key defensive duo in Pietro Accardi and
Stefano Lucchini, as well as Paolo Sammarco, who passed a late fitness test, to
assure him of a spot in the final.
Lazio got this highly anticipated clash underway, in front of a packed house at
the Stadio Olimpico in the Italian capital. They took no time whatsoever to
move forward in an extremely positive manner, as Pandev won a corner for the
Biancocelesti within the first 30 seconds of play. Despite not making the most
of the early corner kick, they were certainly the dominant side in the early
Astonishingly after just
four minutes, Mauro Zarate opened the scoring with an absolute thunderbolt of a
strike, from the edge of the area. A mazy run to skip past his Samp opponents,
allowed him to work himself into a promising position, and he made no mistake
whatsoever by curling a wonderful effort past Luca Castellazzi in goal. The Samp players
were furious with the referee, as they felt that the play should have been
halted moments prior, due to a knock on Giampaolo Pazzini that caused him to go to
Luca Castellazzi single-handedly
kept the Genoa based outfit in the game, after making two world class saves in
succession to deny the Aquile from doubling their advantage. Firstly, he did
well to block a long range effort from Aleksander Kolarov that forced him to dive low to
his right. His follow up save on Pandev was even better though, as he denied
the Macedonian from all of a few yards, in what looked to be a certain goal.
In remarkable fashion, Sampdoria got themselves right back into the final with
an equalising goal through Pazzini on 31 minutes. Antonio Cassano’s glorious
ball into the area met the head of Marius Stankevicius, who then directed the ball
towards Pazzini, and the former Fiorentina man made no mistake by impressively
heading the ball on, and over Muslera to get his side right back into it. It
was a training ground routine that couldn’t have gone any better, one that
placed even more significance on the Pandev miss just moments prior.
With exception of the two
goals, neither side had managed to create any clear cut opportunities
throughout the half. You could just sense that both sides were keen not to
concede in the closing stages of the opening 45 minutes, as both looked very
tentative when moving forward. As expected, that’s how it ended, as the
Biancocelesti and the Blucerchiati headed for the dressing rooms all square at
one goal apiece.
Sampdoria resumed the play in the second half, and they started in extremely
promising fashion, as Paolo Sammarco had the opportunity to tap in a Cassano ball
across the face of goal within the first minute of play. With the assistance of
Pazzini, the former Roma man easily skipped past a number of opponents, in order
to play the ball across the goal, one that in the end had to be cleared off the
line by Kolarov.
The second glorious
opportunity in the early stages of the half, came about on 52 minutes, when
Zarate simply should have made it 2-1 from close range. Foggia’s ability to
beat Stefano Lucchini and send a brilliant ball in from the left, looked likely to be tapped
in by Zarate at the near post, however the Argentine’s failure to attack the
ball, allowed Pietro Accardi to make a tremendous lunging challenge to deny the
capital club the chance to reclaim the lead.
Lazio began to look the
more dangerous side as the hour mark approached, however after winning a few
corners, and causing several problems for the Samp back three, the Aquile
squandered yet another two chances through Pandev and Foggia. The latter failed
to convert a volley from only a few yards out, following a delicate chip by his
Macedonian team-mate, however his powerful right footed effort lacked the
accuracy required to beat Castellazzi in goal.
Both coaches commenced making some changes with the hope of making a
difference, and the inclusion of Rocchi on 73 minutes almost paid instant dividends
moments later, when he just failed to get a boot on to a lovely ball played across the
face of goal by Zarate.
Samp were clearly being
outplayed in the closing stages, as they were forced to sit back and defend the
barrage of Lazio’s attacking movements. They offered little up front, and as a
result they were forced to make some changes to tighten things up, as Gennaro Delvecchio
was introduced in the place of Daniele Franceschini, and Daniele Dessena came on for Sammarco.
The referee’s whistle
brought a fairly lacklustre period to an end, especially in comparison to the
first half, meaning that both sides had to get themselves ready for an
additional 30 minutes of extra time, and possibly more.
Lazio got the extra time period under way, with both sides
well aware of the fact that one moment of magic could be enough to win the
Italian Cup, and earn a place in next season’s Europa League. As was the case
for the majority of the second half though, both sides were very tentative when
in attack, resulting in a number of strikes from long range in this period.
The highlight of the first 15 minutes undoubtedly came
through Cassano, who did extremely well to make his way past Ousmane Dabo, and then
unleash an effort from all of 30 yards. The attempt on goal sailed inches over
the bar, however it certainly seemed to boost the confidence of his team-mates,
as their spirits were lifted in the closing stages of the first period.
Sampdoria restarted the play in the second half of extra
time at the Stadio Olimpico, as the evidently fatigued players set their sights
on scoring in the final 15 minutes, to avoid the dreaded penalty shoot out.
Incredibly, a moment of absolute brilliance by Cassano allowed him to get past
a couple of defenders and send a low ball in towards Pazzini in the area. What
looked likely to be the winner wasn’t though, as Lorenzo De Silvestri got a boot to the
ball to deflect the former Fiorentina man’s effort onto the post and out of
The Biancocelesti had a claim for a penalty on 115 minutes, when Stephan Lichtsteiner
went to ground following a clash with Accardi. The referee called for the play
to continue though, and despite the fact that both sides were giving their all,
it was obvious at this point that a penalty shoot out would be required to separate
the two clubs on the night. After such an entertaining and intense affair, the
players were simply exhausted, and the referee’s whistle brought the play to a
halt, confirming the fact that this season’s Coppa Italia would be decided in a
Sampdoria got off to the worst possible start, as their
star man Cassano saw his spot kick easily saved by Muslera, and when Cristian Ledesma
successfully responded with a coolly converted effort, Lazio were in the box
seat. This was until Rocchi saw his penalty smash against the post, meaning that
both sides were backing in with a chance of emerging victorious.
Following six successful conversions, sudden death was
required to separate the two sides on the night. Unfortunately there always is
a culprit, and tonight that man was Hugo Campagnaro, as his poorly directed spot
kick allowed Dabo to coolly slot home the winner for Lazio.
The Biancocelesti are the Italian cup champions for the
fifth time in their history, and for the first time since 2004, and significantly
they will be playing football in Europe next season.
Muslera; Lichtsteiner, Siviglia, Rozenhal, Kolarov; Brocchi (De Silvestri,
102’), Ledesma, Dabo, Foggia (Del Nero, 80’); Pandev (Rocchi, 73’), Zarate
Sampdoria (3-5-2): Castellazzi; Campagnaro, Lucchini
(Gastaldello, 96’) Accardi; Stankevicius, Sammarco (Dessena, 90’+1), Palombo,
Franceschini (Delvecchio, 88’), Pieri; Cassano, Pazzini
4’ Zarate (Lazio)
31’ Pazzini (Sampdoria)
Cassano (Sampdoria) – Miss
Ledesma (Lazio) – Goal
Palombo (Sampdoria) – Goal
Rocchi (Lazio) – Miss
Pazzini (Sampdoria) – Goal
Rozenhal (Lazio) – Goal
Gastaldello (Sampdoria) – Goal
Kolarov (Lazio) – Goal
Accardi (Sampdoria) – Goal
Zarate (Lazio) – Goal
Delvecchio (Sampdoria) – Goal
Lichtsteiner (Lazio) – Goal
Campagnaro (Sampdoria) – Miss
Dabo (Lazio) – Goal
Adrian Del Monte, Goal.com