Lazio flattened Serie C side Novara 4-1 to reach the Coppa Italia quarter-final, where they will face either Inter or Benevento.
The Aquile chose a full-strength line-up, missing Joaquin Correa with flu, plus suspended Danilo Cataldi, Alessandro Rossi and Stefan Radu. Serie C outfit Novara had eliminated Perugia, Brescia and Pisa to reach the Round of 16, but had to do without suspended Angelo Tartaglia and Pablo Andres Gonzalez, while Daniele Cacia, Tommaso Bianchi and Diego Peralta were injured.
It was a chaotic start, as on seven minutes a desperate save denied Felipe Caicedo’s header, then Novara immediately went on the counter with a double ricochet off Thomas Strakosha and Bastos sending Nicolas Schiavi’s effort just over the bar from close range.
Lazio broke through when Luis Alberto shrugged off defenders from a Ciro Immobile assist and placed the angled drive past an on-rushing goalkeeper.
Elia Benedettini fingertipped a Sergej Milinkovic-Savic strike just wide and after viewing a potential handball on a Lazio corner, the referee judged it to be an involuntary ricochet.
The hosts did get a penalty a few minutes later for a Ronaldo trip on Milinkovic-Savic. Immobile’s penalty was saved by Benedettini, but he turned in the rebound.
Lucas Leiva blasted not far over the bar, but Immobile completed his brace with an easy tap-in at the end of a well-worked move, Jordan Lukaku rolling across from the left.
Schiavi almost surprised Strakosha off his line from distance, but Benedettini was alert to deny Luis Alberto and Bastos from point-blank range.
Milinkovic-Savic proved he intends to start 2019 on the right foot with a sensational free kick into the near top corner to make it 4-0.
However, straight after the restart, the referee awarded a contentious penalty when the ball seemed to be flicked up on to the arm of Luiz Felipe, who if anything was trying to get out of the way. Even after the VAR review, the decision stood and ex-Lazio youth academy player Umberto Eusepi converted to get Novara on the scoreboard.
Cinaglia performed a fantastic goal-line clearance to deny Riza Durmisi moments after stepping on to the field, while Benedettini acrobatically pushed Caicedo’s attempt over from point-blank range after a great run down the right by Pedro Neto.
Unfortunately, the afternoon was marred by yet more racist and Anti-Semitic chants from a small group of the Lazio ultras.
Lazio 4-1 Novara
Luis Alberto 12 (L), Immobile 20, 35 (L), Milinkovic-Savic 45 (L), Eusepi pen 48 (N)
Lazio: Strakosha; Bastos, Luiz Felipe, Acerbi; Marusic (Pedro Neto 77), Milinkovic-Savic, Leiva, Luis Alberto (Berisha 63), Lukaku (Durmisi 63); Caicedo, Immobile
Novara: Benedettini; Cinaglia, Chiosa, Bove, Visconti; Sciaudone, Ronaldo (Buzzegoli 57), Nardi; Schiavi (Mallamo 73); Manconi (Cattaneo 57), Eusepi
Saved penalty: Immobile 20 (L)
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