Lazio fielded the usual starting eleven seen in recent matches (Coppa Italia aside), while Catania saw Morimoto up front in place of the suspended Maxi Lopez. The match was started under a steady rainfall.
As expected, Catania began playing in an extremely defensive formation right from the start. The team from Sicily regularly had 10 players behind the ball, and, during the prolonged possessions for Lazio, at times brought all 11 back to defend. This naturally left Lazio with few clear opportunities, despite dominating play. The best of these was probably Floccari’s left footed shot, after an impressive turn to rid himself of two defenders, which was pushed wide for a corner. A corner with which Lazio did very little, as was the case with all of their dead ball opportunities in the match.
Dias’ impressive goal at Palermo aside, Lazio have struggled to make the most of their set pieces. Two free kicks taken by Hernanes at close range were near misses, while the other occasions only produced an off-side (and replays confirmed he was clearly off) goal from Biava.
And just when it looked like the first half was going to end in a predictable draw, a long range shot slipped through Muslera’s hands and gave Catania a corner. As is often the case in matches like this, Catania netted a goal from their only chance in the first half, a header by Silvestre over Biava. Frustration turned to anger for Lazio supporters, as they were now faced with an uphill battle for the second half. Or so they though. With a single minute of stoppage time added on, a quick counterattack saw Hernanes attacking the free space given to him, carrying the ball forward approximately 30 meters, and concluding with a devastating right footed shot. Crisis averted, Lazio were back even and ready to look for 3 points after the break.
No substitutions for either side, but Reja had now pushed Floccari into the middle, sending Zarate to the left wing and Hernanes into a more central role behind the forward. Again it was a case of Lazio trying to overcome Catania’s all out defending, with individual efforts from Zarate and Hernanes providing Lazio’s biggest threats.
Mauri was clearly having an off day, and 20 minutes into the second half he was taken out, along with the tired Ledesma, in favor of Foggia and Matuzalem. The new entries immediately added some energy to Lazio’s attack, but this only meant they were hitting Catania’s wall even harder. An excellent chip from Zarate, after dribbling several defenders, was Lazio’s best chance for a goal. Unfortunately Catania’s keeper was just able to get a hand on it, otherwise the comparisons to Messi would have been sure to follow.
As happened in the final minutes of the first half, just when everyone was thinking the match would end in a draw, there was one heart stopping occasion yet to come. Lazio had procured a corner kick, and Zarate opted for a short ball to Hernanes at the edge of the 18 yard box. Quickly closed by a defender, the Brazilian cut the ball to his right, and prepared to move past his adversary… only he was physically prevented from doing so. While not the most obvious of penalties in the world, the referee could have easily blown the whistle on this occasion, especially considering some of the other penalties awarded this year in Serie A. To add insult to injury, the resulting Catania counterattack left them with a 4 on 2 advantage, which was thwarted at the last moment by a returning Biava. It was a clear chance for Catania to win the match, but fittingly they made a mess of it, as they in no way deserved a victory.
The result keeps Lazio 3 points behind Milan, who also drew in their match against Sampdoria. Next up is a rare Friday night match that sees Inter coming to play Lazio for the first time since the famous “OH NOOO” game from last season.