Fiorentina 0-0 Lazio: Entertaining Encounter Ends In Goalless Draw

Champions League hopefuls Fiorentina and Lazio failed to break the deadlock in what was one of the most entertaining 0-0 draws played so far this season.

Fiorentina had most of the chances in the game and came very close on a number of occasions but failed to take them. Visitors Lazio too had some good opportunities to take maximum points from this fixture but couldn't manage to find the Viola net.

Fiorentina were on a high after convincingly defeating English giants and former European champions Liverpool in midweek in the Champions League and lined up an attacking formation against Lazio at home with Adrian Mutu starting upfront with youngster Stevan Jovetic playing just behind him. The side from Rome were relying on Mauro Zarate and Tommaso Rocchi for goals.

Indeed it was the visitors who were the more attacking side in the opening stages of the game. In the second minute Stefano Mauri sent Pasquale Foggia through on the Fiorentina goal but the Neapolitan drew Sebastien Frey into the easiest of saves.

Four minutes later the Biancocelesti won a free-kick in a dangerous position. Foggia whipped it in but Rocchi failed to maintain his cool and couldn't do anything productive with the ball. Foggia looked to be in fine form as he was creating danger for the home side along the right side of the pitch.

But Fiorentina were not shy to create their own chances and their first attack of the game saw Mutu knock the ball down to Jovetic on the right of the Lazio penalty box but he was adjudged to have fouled Stefan Radu and conceded a free-kick to the visitors.

It became end-to-end stuff after that as both sides came out desperate for the opening goal of the afternoon in Florence. First Foggia sent Zarate through and the Argentinean then squared the ball to Mauri, but the Lazio midfielder lost his control.

That handed Fiorentina an opportunity of their own as Mutu knocked an inviting ball across the box but Marco Marchionni couldn't reach it even after stretching himself.

The Italian midfielder, though, then created a good chance for his teammate Riccardo Montolivo in the 17th minute but the 24-year-old failed to keep his drive on target.

Chances came in thick and fast for both sides as Foggia and Zarate tried to rip apart each other's backline. But no clear-cut chance could be constructed by either side.

In the 27th minute Marchionni was again sent through on the Lazio goal but he was dispossessed by an onrushing Nestor Muslera. A couple of minutes later Montolivo tried to break the deadlock with an ambitious drive but it went just wide off the post.

Fiorentina appeared to have gained some control of the match by this time and were also playing with more defensive compactness. They earned two good chances in the space of a couple of minutes when first Mutu tried to score from inside the Lazio box in the 33rd minute and then Montolivo's 20-yard drive went just inches wide off the post on 35 minutes.

The hosts continued to launch attacks on the former Italian champions' citadel and came close in the 45th minute when Cristiano Zanetti's shot from close range was cleared by Roberto Baronio off the line. That was the best chance of the half for either side as it finished 0-0 at half-time.

The first 45 minutes might have ended on a defensive mode for Lazio but they switched to a 4-3-3 formation at the start of the second half and started looking dangerous on the attack.

Yet it was again Fiorentina who found themselves with the half's first chance to score when youngster Jovetic had the ball near the Lazio goalmouth but Cribari dispossessed him. Two minutes later the Viola were awarded a free-kick just outside the box but Juan Manuel Vargas' shot was hit straight at Muslera.

Fiorentina then started to dominate possession and territory and could have broken the deadlock on a number of occasions. First Montolivo attempted another drive in the 57th minute, then Mutu's entry inside the Lazio penalty box in the 59th minute put the defenders into distress but Jovetic blasted the ball wide after he had received the square pass from the Romanian, and then in the 61st minute Jovetic headed a Mutu ball just wide off target from six yards.

Lazio, though, could have taken a shock lead on 67 minutes when Foggia found himself through on goal, but from just yards from goalmouth missed the target.

From then on the visitors started to get into the match as Zarate went close and the Lazio attackers started to press on the Fiorentina defenders. Then in the 73rd minute goalkeeper Frey made a superb save when he punched away a curling shot from Foggia for a corner.

Second half substitute for Fiorentina, Alberto Gilardino, could have made himself a hero at the Stadio Franchi ten minutes before the final whistle when he rounded up Lazio custodian Muslera and shot at an empty net. But Radu came into the rescue for the visitors as he made an astonishing clearance off the line, although the home side thought that the ball had crossed over before the Romanian put the ball away.

Both sides went in search for the winner in the remaining minutes of the match. Fiorentina came close to scoring what would have been the winner three minutes from normal time when Marin Jorgensen smashed a ball low and hard to the near post but Muslera was up to the challenge. And it eventually ended 0-0.

Subhankar Mondal,