Libor Kozak’s brace helped Lazio to a comfortable victory over Panathinaikos despite a nasty head injury, as they stay top of their Europa League group. Tottenham’s win over Maribor means the Aquile have a two-point advantage.
The Biancocelesti were pegged back 1-1 at the last minute in Greece after doing the bare minimum, but remained top of their group. Federico Marchetti and Stefan Radu returned from long-term injury lay-offs, but Hernanes, Miroslav Klose and Stefano Mauri were rested on the bench. Mauro Zarate acted as trequartista, while Lorik Cana was reworked as a centre-back. Panathinaikos missed Andre Pinto, Marinos and Ibrahim Sissoko.
Zarate got to the by-line and nobody was ready for his pull-back, while Sergio Floccari was unable to make the most of an Alvaro Gonzalez assist. Radu was making his first start in seven months and was decisive in intercepting a Spyropoloulos through ball that was sending Toche’ clear.
Moments later, Lazio took the lead with a great Libor Kozak strike. He gathered with his back to goal on the edge of the box and spun round for a delightful right-foot chip over the goalkeeper into the far top corner.
Kozak was in the wars soon after, as Seitaridis was booked for a very high foot that left him with a bleeding cut to his head. The forward was able to continue with bandaging. Zarate should’ve passed to Kozak, but was determined to take on the entire Panathinaikos defence single-handed and the chance went begging. Zarate did pass to Kozak moments later, but Diamantis Chouchoumis performed a crucial interception.
Kozak did get to complete his brace, pouncing on a poor backpass to anticipate Loukas Vyntra and side-foot home from the edge of the box.
It was one-way traffic, as Zarate’s curler was beaten away and Gonzalez couldn’t get to the rebound, then Zarate’s free kick hit the side-netting.
Another Zarate set piece was crucial soon after, as he curled a free kick on to the head of Sergio Floccari for a powerful header under the bar.
Zarate and Eddy Onazi tested the goalkeeper from distance, while Marchetti finally had something to do on a Seitaridis snapshot and watched a Christodooulopoulos lob go over.
Lazio 3-0 Panathinaikos
Scorers: Kozak 23, 40 (L), Floccari 58 (L)
Lazio: Marchetti; Scaloni, Cana, Ciani, Radu; Gonzalez (Hernanes 68), Ledesma (Lulic 80), Onazi; Zarate; Floccari, Kozak (Klose 76)
Panathinaikos: Karnezis; Seitaridis, Velazquez, Vyntra, Spyropoulos; Zeca (Lagos 78), Vitolo, Chouchoumis; Christodoulopoulos, Toché (Petropoulos 24), Owusu-Abeyie
Ref: Schorgenhofer (AUT)