Stefan Radu bagged a brace – one blockbuster and one misplaced cross – in Lazio’s chaotic 3-2 victory over Sassuolo.
There was tension all around this game, as Biancocelesti fans staged a protest march against President Claudio Lotito outside the stadium after back-to-back defeats between Serie A and Europa League, while Sassuolo had lost all three under Alberto Malesani. The Coach reacted by dropping Domenico Berardi, Luca Marrone and Luca Antei, starting Sergio Floccari against the club he left in January.
Lazio had a lot of possession in the first half without making much of an impact, as Alvaro Gonzalez drilled off target.
Senad Lulic’s cross for Antonio Candreva turned into an assist for Miroslav Klose, but the German fired straight at Lorenzo Ariaudo in a great scoring opportunity.
Aleandro Rosi and Stefan Radu were both booked for a shoving match at the by-line, then Candreva’s angled drive whistled wide.
Sassuolo seemed entirely content to sit back behind the ball and wait for a potential counter-attack. That plan was ruined by a moment of magic from Radu.
The Romanian gathered the ball from 30 metres out down the left side of the pitch and unleashed an unstoppable rocket that flew in off the inside of the post. It was a remarkable blockbuster.
Simone Zaza was rather foolishly booked for throwing the ball at the referee at the half-time whistle, protesting he was making a forward move at the time.
Klose went extremely close to a second after the restart, as a misplaced Radu effort turned into an assist and a deflection took the German’s finish inches past the post.
Berardi came off the bench and made an immediate impact, as his acrobatic volley into the ground bounced up on to the roof of the net when a cross found him at the back post.
Sassuolo equalised when Lazio were caught napping. Cristian Ledesma gave the ball away in midfield to spark a counter and Sergio Floccari got between centre-backs to poke it past Etrit Berisha. Floccari had only left the Biancocelesti in January and did not celebrate against his former teammates.
However, within 60 seconds Lazio were back in front. Reto Ziegler slipped and Alvaro Gonzalez pounced, allowing Klose to spring the offside trap and beat the on-rushing Gianluca Pegolo. Ziegler seemed to suffer a thigh strain during that move and hobbled off in agony, to be replaced by Antonio Floro Flores.
That too proved an inspired substitution, as Floro Flores got Sassuolo back on level terms with a magnificent free kick curled into the near top corner past a flailing Berisha.
The chaotic turnarounds continued with the Aquile restoring their advantage again. Radu’s cross might’ve taken a touch off Candreva or Paolo Cannavaro, but the lack of any real connection surprised Pegolo and allowed it to fly all the way across into the far corner. If credited to Radu, it’s the first brace of his career.
It was still wide open to the end, as Candreva's shot was charged down, then Berisha had to sprint off his line to clear from Berardi on a poor backpass and even Pegolo went up for a Sassuolo corner.