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29 Jan 2013

Bianconeri denied in injury time

Conte’s men dealt a cruel blow after staging a valiant injury-time comeback through Vidal. Floccari pounces at the death to break Bianconeri hearts

A dramatic evening in Rome was settled in a frenetic seven minutes of injury time which saw Lazio progress to May’s Coppa Italia final.

Despite Juve’s control of the match, the Biancocelesti went in front via Alvaro Gonzalez’s diving header after 52 minutes. Arturo Vidal’s stoppage time finish drew the visitors level and with the game heading for extra time, Sergio Floccari latched onto a Mauri corner to seal the victory.

The winner takes all encounter began at a high tempo which saw the Bianconeri put the hosts on the back foot right from the off. The opening exchanges also saw tackles and fouls flying in from both sides but referee Banti strived to keep cards in his pocket when possible.

A contentious moment came early in the first half when Vucinic latched onto a perfectly weighted pass from the right side of midfield. The Montenegrin striker knocked the ball past the onrushing Marchetti and was subsequently brought down by the keeper. After a short conversation with the linesman, Banti waved away the claims.

Lazio’s best opportunity of the half came with 25 minutes on the clock. Hernanes found himself with just enough space outside the box to release a snap-shot which passed narrowly over the bar.

The visitors grew even bolder in their approach in the dying stages of the first period as Vucinic and Giovinco had good chances to break the deadlock ahead of the interval. First, Vucinic burst through on the right side of the area and unleashed a venomous strike which was well saved by Marchetti. Barely a minute later, the Montenegrin found himself in the thick of the action again, this time playing a crafty pass in for Giovinco, who turned his marker brilliantly but failed to dispatch a clean strike on goal.

Soon after the break, Ledesma floated a cross in behind the Bianconeri defence and Gonzalez finished the chance off with a precise diving header from the back post to give Lazio the lead after 52 minutes against the run of play.

In a bid to grab the equaliser and force extra time, Conte shuffled his pack and threw on the heavy artillery in the form of Pirlo and Marchisio, followed by an attacking change, removing Giaccherini to make way for an extra forward in Quagliarella.

A particularly sustained period of pressure from Conte’s men saw three corners in quick succession. The best chance emerged when Vucinic chested the ball down to set up Giovinco who thrashed a wayward left-footed volley over the bar.

A dramatic six minutes of injury time sparked into life when Lazio failed to adequately deal with a Juventus cross from the left wing. Biava’s attempted clearance could only help the ball into the path of Vidal, who picked up the pieces to put the visitors back on terms.

However, moments later at the other end of the pitch, the Biancocelesti earned a corner which was swung in by Mauri and finished off by the towering figure of Floccari, swinging the pendulum back in the hosts’ favour.

The suspense was not over yet as Juve rallied to create a chance almost instantly after the restart when Giovinco slipped between two blue shirts and struck towards goal. The shot was well parried by Marchetti, but only as far as Marchisio, who was unable to steer his close range follow up on target. The final act of the match came when Pirlo delivered a threatening free kick from the right hand side, Vidal rose highest but glanced his header past the post.


GOALS: Gonzalez 53, Vidal 90+2, Floccari 90+3

Marchetti; Biava, Dias, Ciani; Konko, Gonazalez (Cana 86), Ledesma, Hernanes (Lulic 63), Radu; Mauri; Klose (Floccari 70).
Substitutes not used: Bizzarri, Carrizo, Cavanda, Stankevicius, Rozzi, Zauri, Brocchi, Candreva, Kozak.
Manager: Petkovic

Storari; Barzagli, Bonucci, Peluso; Isla, Vidal, Marrone (Pirlo 68), Giaccherini (Quagliarella 76), Padoin (Marchisio 70); Vucinic, Giovinco.
Substitutes not used: Buffon, Rubinho, Caceres, Pogba, Lichtsteiner, De Ceglie, Matri.
Manager: Conte

ASSISTANTS: Marzaloni, Cariolato

BOOKINGS: Giaccherini 4, Isla 25, Konko 29, Vidal 51, Giovinco 81, Bonucci 85, Dias 90+6