Serb striker spearheads Lazio progress despite derby defeat
ROME—Lazio have reached the final of the Coppa Italia despite losing to their rivals Roma, 3-2, in a hotly contested derby at the Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday evening.
Roma knew that they were facing an uphill struggle as they entered the second-leg, trailing 2-0 on aggregate. However, a 3-2 victory on the night was not enough to overturn the deficit and it will be Lazio who will contest the Coppa Italia final in June.
After a highly intense first half an hour, in which both sides had chances to go ahead, it was Lazio who extended their advantage through Serbian Sergej Milikonvic-Savic when Roma goalkeeper Alisson could only palm Ciro Immobile’s intial shot into the path of the onrushing Serb.
However, Roma bit back before half-time after Lazio defender Stefan de Vrij failed to deal with a rather innocuous cross, his weak clearance was swept home by Stephen El Shaarawy which sent the teams into the break at 1-1.
The Italian’s equaliser gave Roma hope as they came out for the second half. In their attempts to push forward in their search of goals, the Giaollorossi left gaps at the back and they were undone by a Milikonvic-Savic long ball, which was slotted in by Immobile to restore Lazio’s lead on 56 minutes.
Roma refused to lie down and continued to put pressure on the Lazio defence. The pressure eventually told when former Chelsea man Mohammad Salah restored parity on 66 minutes, as he reacted quickly to convert El Sharaawy’s rebounded shot off the post.
The equaliser set up and entertaining last half an hour which yielded a host of chances for Roma, but some good goalkeeping from Lazio’s Thomas Strakoshka and some wasteful finishing frustrated the Roma faithful, back in the terraces after a 14 month protest against security barriers.
Salah eventually scored his second of the night to give Roma the lead on 90 minutes but it turned out to be nothing more than a consolation as Lazio went through 4-3 on aggregate.
Lazio will face either Juventus or Napoli in the final, although the Bianconeri hold a 3-1 lead over their opponents going into Wednesday’s second leg.