Lazio ran a few risks, but Hernanes scored the winner and hit the woodwork in a 1-0 win over Legia Warsaw.
In the other Group J game, Trabzonspor won 2-1 away to Apollon.
The Biancocelesti began their Europa League campaign against Legia Warsaw in Rome. With the Derby della Capitale coming up on Sunday, Vladimir Petkovic rested Miroslav Klose, Cristian Ledesma, Antonio Candreva and Senad Lulic, giving ex-Barcelona 18-year-old Keita Balde his full debut. The Polish side entered this competition via the Champions League play-offs, losing to Steaua Bucharest only on away goals. Vladimir Dvalisvili was only fit for the bench and first choice goalkeeper Dusan Kuciak unavailable.
Dominik Furman blasted over from distance after a well-worked move, but the hosts had two great chances from successive Hernanes corners. On the first Ederson’s shot was charged down in the six-yard box, then Abdoullay Konko’s glancing header flashed inches past the far post.
Federico Marchetti needed a sensational reaction save moments later, as Jakub Kosecki knocked down a long ball and immediately smashed his volley from 12 yards.
Kosecki was dangerous again on the counter-attack with a curling effort that dribbled just wide of the far post.
Lazio were more determined after the restart and Lorik Cana nodded off target from a corner. It was a warning, as Hernanes broke the deadlock on 53 minutes when he soared above the crowd to nod in a splendid Keita cross from the left.
Cana crucially intercepted a pull-back for Saganowski with the goal gaping, but Hernanes went extremely close to a second when he slalomed past defenders only for his daisy-cutter to thump the base of the upright.
Some desperate defending crowded out Radovic in the penalty area and substitute Senad Lulic’s effort was deflected wide. From that corner Novaretti thought he had scored with a powerful header into the ground, but Skaba flew to palm it out from under the bar.
Lazio 1-0 Legia Warsaw
Scorers: Hernanes 53 (La)
Lazio: Marchetti; Cavanda, Ciani, Cana, Konko; Gonzalez, Onazi, Hernanes (Lulic 74); Ederson (Ledesma 70), Floccari, Keita Balde (Novaretti 84)
Legia Warsaw: Skaba; Broz, Rzeźniczak, Dossa Junior, Brzyski; Vrdoljak (Jodlowiec 70), Furman; Ojamaa, Radović, Kosecki; Saganowski (Kucharczyk 68)
Ref: Jakobsson (ISL)
Tickets for the Champions League final between Juventus and Real Madrid are still on sale with reseller Viagogo - Click to find out more