Ederson and a sensational Eddy Onazi solo run have given Lazio a fantastic 2-0 first leg Europa League win in Stuttgart.
The Biancocelesti aimed to keep their unbeaten Europea League record going after six wins and four draws, but again were without the injured Miroslav Klose, Abdoullay Konko and Cristian Brocchi. Cristian Ledesma, Andre Dias and Giuseppe Biava were rested for this trip to the VfB Arena. Stuttgart had Vedad Ibisevic suspended, but started Lazio youth academy product Federico Macheda.
Stuttgart have done considerably better on their travels in Europe this season, managing only three draws and a defeat on home turf since the play-offs.
Federico Marchetti needed a stunning reaction save to palm a Shinji Okazaki diving header out from under the bar, as an Alexandrou Maxim cross from the right took Lazio’s defence by surprise.
It was Lazio who took the lead with their first real chance. Bruno Pereirinha pounced on a poor Arthur Boka first touch in the penalty area and the ball fell to Ederson, who immediately turned and smashed his left-foot finish into the near bottom corner.
The hosts lost Maxim to injury when he fell awkwardly after a collision with Hernanes.
Lorik Cana’s powerful header whistled wide from a corner, while Ederson almost netted a second before the break when he nodded Antonio Candreva’s chipped cross into the ground and over at the back post.
Stuttgart also went extremely close moments later, as an Okazaki diving header whistled across the face of goal and inches wide from six yards. Stefan Radu did just about enough to put him off.
The Biancocelesti made it 2-0 after the restart thanks to a sensational goal from Eddy Onazi. The 20-year-old who won the Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria last month started running from the centre circle, skipped past two challenges and deposited the ball past the on-rushing goalkeeper. It was his first club goal at senior level and a cracker it was too.
Candreva’s free kick was deflected just past the post, while Okazaki turned Cana with a wonderful flick and at full stretch prodded inches wide of the upright.
Marchetti flapped a Hajnal cross-shot over the bar and smothered a weak Serdar Tasci header, but Candreva horribly wasted when ballooning over from a smart Libor Kozak assist.
Senad Lulic sprung the offside trap down the left to burst past Gotoku Sakai, but fired straight at the goalkeeper. Substitute Sergio Floccari also aimed a shot on to Sven Ulreich’s hands from a promising position.
Cana was booked in the final minutes and will be suspended for the second leg on March 14, which will be played behind closed doors at the Stadio Olimpico. Lazio are to sit out the first of their two-match UEFA ban for repeated instances of racism from a section of the supporters.
Stuttgart 0-2 Lazio
Scorers: Ederson 20 (L), Onazi 56 (L)
Stuttgart: Ulreich; Sakai, Tasci, Rudiger, Boka; Kvist (Harnik 55), Gentner; Okazaki, Maxim (Hajnal 41), Traore; Macheda (Holzhauser 93)
Lazio: Marchetti; Pereirinha, Cana, Ciani, Radu; Hernanes (Gonzalez 72); Candreva, Onazi, Ederson (Ledesma 64), Lulic; Kozak (Floccari 84)
Ref: Tudor (ROM)