Serie A Week 14 - 5 Dec 2011 (19.45 UK)
Lazio 3 - 0
Biava 16 (L), Rocchi 23, 72 (L)
Stadio Olimpico

Lazio comfortably beat struggling Novara and returned to scoring ways thanks to a goal from Giuseppe Biava and a double from Tommaso Rocchi.

After missing the midweek Europa League draw with FC Vaslui, Marius Stankevicius and Cristian Ledesma came back into Lazio’s starting line-up in place of Mobido Diakite and Lorik Cana respecitively whilst Djibril Cisse again dropped to the bench in favour of Tommaso Rocchi for the second successive League match. Lazio had not scored in their last three games in all competitions.

Meanwhile, Novara went into the game having not beaten the Aquile in Rome since 1952. Coach Attilio Tesser gave goalkeeper Samir Ujkani his first League appearance since losing four teeth and breaking his jaw in mid-October against Bologna. The goalkeeper made his comeback in midweek and again was wearing a protective face mask. Defenders Carlo Alberto Ludi and Santiago Garcia kept their places in the XI after both also started in midweek in the Coppa Italia.

Edy Reja’s side began the game on the front foot and at pace and within the opening few minutes. Ivan Radovanovic was forced to head behind early on from Cristian Ledesma’s sharp free-kick whilst Ludi had to also concede a corner to prevent an on-rushing Klose edging ahead when through on goal in the penalty area.

Filippo Porcari’s hard challenge on Hernanes earned a yellow card as early as the ninth minute of play. From the resulting passage of play, the Brazilian playmaker tried his luck from 30 yards, but for Ujkani to comfortably catch his shot.

Ujkani saved well to deny Rocchi the opening goal on 15 after the striker latched on to a pass from Lulic’s long run through Novara’s defence. Within minutes though Lazio took the lead. Hernanes’ strike deflected behind for a corner, from which the unmarked Giuseppe Biava headed in before Ujkani could reach it with an attempted punch.

The home side threatened to immediately double the lead through Klose’s shot on goal, whilst a few minutes later Hernanes again had a long-range effort, this one from 35 yards dipping and causing Ujkani concern before edging wide.

Lazio doubled their lead on 23 when Ledesma’s free-kick from the right was convincingly nodded in by Rocchi.

Biava almost gave Novara a way back into the game when carelessly giving away possession from defence, but Rubino was unable to fashion a move in the ensuing three-on-three attack. Biava was later booked for a clumsy challenge.

Lazio again threatened to go ahead first from out wide when Stefan Radu’s run down to the left forced another corner, and then from the set-piece which Novara nervously cleared.

Novara tested Marchetti for the first time on the half-hour mark through Porcari’s shot from the right side of the penalty area. It was the final touch in a clever break of play for the struggling visitors.

Marco Rigoni’s determination from the left then brought about an even clearer chance as his cross found Pablo Granoche. However, the unmarked striker’s header was straight at Marchetti. The offside flag was raised, it would have been disallowed.

The two Novara men combined well on a few occasions in a bright 10-minute spell for Tesser’s side, without creating any clear chances though, even as Lazio dropped off slightly.

The second half saw Hernanes again threatening Ujkani’s from distance, three minutes after the break going close with a 40-yard effort from a free-kick.

The second 45’s first real opportunity saw Klose extraordinarily miss an open goal from 10 yards. Put through by Hernanes’ expertly-weighted pass, the German rounded goalkeeper Ujkani only to miss the target. The German looked under slight pressure from full-back Garcia who was attempting to catch up with the forward, but it was still a terrible miss.

At the other end Radu had Alvaro Gonzalez to thank for breaking Rigoni’s run into the box. The Novara man picked up possession after the Romanian full-back completely missed his clearance. Gonzalez’ block prevented Rigoni from finding teammates in the area.

A lacklustre second half was brought to life by a neat third goal from Lazio as Rocchi netted his second of the night. Midway through the half that had provided little action, Rocchi’s neat run and pass to Gonzalez was reciprocated by the Uruguayan as his well-executed cross found the striker for a simple volleyed finish from five yards out.

Substitute Djibril Cisse came on to applause from the Lazio fans and five minutes before the end he almost repaid them with a first goal since Week 2. Put through into 20 yards of free space, Cisse skipped a covering central defender’s challenge before beating Ujkani with a neat effort only to see it rebound off the post.

Seconds later Klose stung Ujkani’s gloves with a sharp effort, whilst almost immediately at the other end an unmarked Jeda saw a cross go between his legs with the goal gaping at his mercy.

Rigoni’s work down the left then carved Novara’s best chance. His cross found Jeda, who headed down for the incoming Luigi Giorgi to smash his effort against the crossbar and out from just eight yards.

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Lazio: Marchetti; Konko (Scaloni 82), Biava, Stankevicius, Radu; Gonzalez, Ledesma, Lulic; Hernanes (Cana 64); Rocchi (Cisse 77), Klose
: Ujkani; Morganella, Centurioni, Ludi, Garcia; Porcari, Radovanovic (Pesce 55), Rigoni; Mazzarani (Giorgi 75); Granoche (Jeda 63), Rubino
Ref: Gava