Lazio are through to the Coppa Italia Final after a dramatic 2-1 victory over Juventus, as Arturo Vidal thought he’d forced extra time until Sergio Floccari’s stoppage-time header. They will face either Roma or Inter in the Final in May.
The Biancocelesti had the advantage after a 1-1 draw in the first leg, Stefano Mauri scoring that precious away goal. Miroslav Klose returned for his first game since January 13, while they retained a three-man defence to mirror Juve. Andrea Pirlo was only fit for the bench, but Paul Pogba was rested in the Bianconeri midfield.
Just days after the huge controversy of Juventus-Genoa, the Bianconeri were again absolutely furious on eight minutes. Mirko Vucinic ran on to a poor backpass and appeared to be brought down by Federico Marchetti right at the by-line, but the referee and his linesman only awarded a corner.
Sebastian Giovinco’s free kick curled over from a very tight angle and Marchetti intercepted a Vucinic ball across for Giovinco in the six-yard box.
Hernanes blasted over from the D after good work from Stefan Radu down the left. It was Lazio’s turn to be angry on 29 minutes, as Mauricio Isla clumsily chested down the ball in the box and Klose pounced, falling under his challenge. Once again, the referee waved play on.
Juve continued to pour on the pressure in the first half, but defensive bodies charged down efforts from Giovinco and Emanuele Giaccherini. The Atomic Ant had a very promising counter-attack only to run into Andre Dias. It was intense, but above all tense, as players from both teams contested every decision.
In first half stoppages, Marchetti had his palms stung by a fierce strike down the right side of the box by Vucinic.
Giovinco should’ve scored with the last kick of the half, but after spinning brilliantly to get away from two defenders, he scuffed his shot into the arms of Marchetti.
After the restart Arturo Vidal was booked for a crunching tackle on Michael Ciani, meaning he’ll be suspended for the next Coppa Italia game.
Lazio were more attacking in this second half and took the lead with Alvaro Gonzalez diving header on to a Cristian Ledesma curling pass over the top to the back post. Gonzalez celebrated by holding up the jersey of Lionel Scaloni, who completed his transfer to Atalanta today. Juve now needed a goal just to force extra time.
There was a very nasty clash of heads between Luca Marrone and Hernanes. The Brazilian came off much worse and seemed to lose be out cold mid-air. He regained consciousness, but was bleeding heavily when stretchered off for Senad Lulic.
Giovinco and Klose went down in the box again, but neither seemed worthy of a penalty. Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio were thrown on for the final Juventus push to get this semi-final back on track.
Ciani’s sliding block charged down Giovinco’s shot and Sergio Floccari stumbled as he was lining up his finish on the counter-attack.
It was getting increasingly desperate from last year’s beaten Finalists, as Giovinco was booked for simulation and Fabio Quagliarella blasted off target from distance. Pirlo rolled a free kick wide for Mauricio Isla, but Andre Dias did well to intercept the pass to Quagliarella.
The Olimpico crowd jeered angrily as six minutes of stoppages were awarded, but it did take some time to remove Hernanes from the pitch.
Juventus only needed 60 seconds of it to draw level, as a cross was flicked on and Stefan Radu was caught napping, as Vidal burst in behind him to blast under the bar from nine yards.
It seemed to be enough to force extra time, but moments later a corner found Floccari’s glancing header in at the back post from six yards. The crowd went wild after this dramatic finale.
It still wasn’t over, as Juve went straight up the other end and should’ve scored. Giovinco forced a desperate save from Marchetti from point-blank range and Marchisio somehow turned the follow-up wide at the back post! It would’ve put Juventus through to the Final on away goals.
It went right down to the wire, as the Bianconeri had a free kick just outside the area that Pirlo floated in for Vidal’s header wide. Even goalkeeper Storari had gone up for that set play at the 97th minute.
Lazio 2-1 Juventus (3-2 on agg)
Scorers: Gonzalez 53 (L), Vidal 91 (J), Floccari 93 (L)
Lazio: Marchetti; Biava, Dias, Ciani; Konko, Gonzalez (Cana 86), Ledesma, Hernanes (Lulic 62), Radu; Mauri; Klose (Floccari 70)
Juventus: Storari; Barzagli, Bonucci, Peluso; Isla, Vidal, Marrone (Marchisio 70), Giaccherini (Quagliarella 76), Padoin (Pirlo 68); Vucinic, Giovinco
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.