Sergio Floccari bagged a brace as Lazio demolished Maribor 4-1 in Slovenia, winning their Europa League group ahead of Tottenham.
The Aquile were already sure of their spot in the next round of the Europa League, but could put first place under lock and key in Slovenia. With Miroslav Klose out, Libor Kozak partnered Sergio Floccari in a revamped 3-4-3 system, while Lorik Cana came into the defence.
Vladimir Petkovic’s men won this fixture 1-0 at the Olimpico in October. Ederson volleyed wide in his new role as part of a trident attack, while Floccari was incorrectly flagged offside when clear on goal.
Kozak broke the deadlock after 16 minutes when he sprung the offside trap on an Ederson angled pass and kept his cool for a delightful lob over Jasmin Handanovic.
Lazio were in complete control in Slovenia and Handanovic beat away an Ederson effort, but from the resulting corner Hernanes curled it on to the head of Stefan Radu at the near post.
Floccari continued the Slovenian rout by finishing off a splendid team move, making the most of Ederson’s smart assist to drill across the goalkeeper into the far corner.
It would’ve been 4-0, but Ales Mertelj flung himself at a Senad Lulic strike, while Maribor finally had a shot on goal before half-time. Radu completely mis-kicked a clearance into the path of Tavares, but the finish was weak and straight at Albano Bizzarri.
Another howler from Lazio almost allowed Maribor a consolation goal, as Bizzarri’s punch on a cross was unconvincing and fell to Goran Cvijanovic for a stunning volley that smashed against the bar from 20 metres.
Kozak was unlucky straight after the restart when thumping the upright on the turn, but Floccari did get Lazio’s fourth. The striker started from the centre circle and dribbled all the way up the pitch to curl in the finish from the edge of the box.
Ederson attempted a chip, but Handanovic read it and was able to pluck out of the air, while Floccari threatened a hat-trick with a volley off target. Despite the fact the result was clearly secure, Lazio took Vladimir Petkovic’s advice and continued pushing in order to enjoy their football.
There was a scare when Michael Ciani and Bizzarri had a misunderstanding, but the defender went sliding in to block Robert Beric. Bizzarri also dealt with a Timotej Dodlek long-range effort well.
Handanovic needed a desperate double save on Ciani’s header and the Cana follow-up.
Maribor did get a consolation goal with Tavares, who dribbled past Ciani to beat Bizzarri at the far post.
Maribor 1-4 Lazio
Scorers: Kozak 16 (L), Radu 32 (L), Floccari 38, 51 (L), Tavares 84 (M)
Maribor: Handanovic; Mertelj, Rajcevic, Potokar, Trajkovski; Filipovic (Dodlek 56), Cvijanovic (Arghus 80); Mezga (Crnic 80), Tavares, Ibraimi; Beric
Lazio: Bizzarri; Ciani, Cana, Radu (Scaloni 56); Cavanda, Onazi, Hernanes (Gonzalez 56), Lulic; Ederson, Kozak (Rozzi 78), Floccari
Ref: Vad (HUN)