Lazio once again threw away a lead to lose 2-1, this time in the Europa League against Cluj after a Bastos opener.
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This is, including last season, their fifth consecutive Europa League defeat and the 11th in a row without a clean sheet.
The Biancocelesti left Ciro Immobile, Luis Alberto and Stefan Radu at home with Adam Marusic suspended, so rotated the squad for this opening Europa League group game. Cluj had dropped into this competition from the Champions League play-offs, having eliminated Celtic – who are also in this group – in the preliminary rounds.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic wore the captain’s armband from the start for the first time and almost broke through within 11 minutes, but Giedrius Arlauskis needed a fantastic reaction save to push his header off the line from a Jony Rodriguez cross, then Manuel Lazzari was unable to turn in the rebound.
Tucu Correa wasted a couple of promising moves and another Milinkovic-Savic header was off target on the corner.
Jony put in yet another excellent cross from a short corner and Bastos got in front of defenders to tap in from a couple of yards off his knee.
Lazzari failed to find the target again when sprinting away from Camora, firing the half-volley over the bar.
Cluj were awarded a penalty when Lucas Leiva held back Damjan Djokovic by his shirt as a free kick came in and Ciprian Deac kept his cool to send Thomas Strakosha the wrong way. It meant Lazio continued their run of 11 Europa League matches without a clean sheet.
On the stroke of half-time, Milinkovic-Savic yet again skimmed the woodwork on a Jony set play.
Cluj introduced striker Billal Omrani and he almost made an immediate impact, sprinting away after a Bastos error and drilling the angled drive inches past the far post.
Omrani also blasted over from distance and Bastos made a decisive block to stop him tapping in, but Jony’s rocket of a half-volley stung the gloves of Arlauskis.
Just as they had done against SPAL at the weekend, Lazio went from leading 1-0 to losing 2-1 in the second half. Omrani let them off the hook once with a shot that cannoned off the crossbar, but Strakosha was stranded when the same player put a looping header into the empty net on the rebound.
Danilo Cataldi had a huge opportunity to equalise in stoppages, but his volley was well saved at the back post. Milinkovic-Savic also saw a header land on the roof of the net.
Cluj 2-1 Lazio
Bastos 25 (L), Deac pen 41 (C), Omrani 75 (C)
Cluj: Arlauskis; Peteleu, Burca, Boli, Mike, Camora; Bordeianu, Djokovic, Paun (Culio 83); Deac (Golofca 89), Traorè (Omrani 46)
Lazio: Strakosha; Vavro, Acerbi, Bastos (Adekanye 80); Lazzari, Milinkovic-Savic, Leiva, Berisha (Cataldi 67), Jony (Lulic 80); Correa, Caicedo
Ref: Stefanski (POL)
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