If by any chance you have failed to watch yesterday`s match: that might have actually been a good thing. Yes, Lazio did concede 4 goals in a single half, but trust me when I say that we were the better team than Napoli, but were yet penalized by ruthless refereeing which again directly influenced the outcome of the match, and thus perhaps dealt a decisive blow to our chances for a CL spot. On the other hand, Napoli remained in the Scudetto hunt and but certainly sealed a CL spot.
As usual in away games, Lazio began with caution without conceding a lot of ground to Napoli. Cavani was basically invisible for 45 minutes with only Lavezzi and Hamsik occasionally threatening us. In the opening part of the first half, we were toothless in attack, until Napoli started to attack more seriously (to no avail however) which left spaces behind. And this is where a masterful move by Stefano Mauri came, which left the crowd at San Polo as well as us, viewers speechless. He received a ball from Zarate some 20 meters from the goal, past 2 Napoli players, and then another one, he entered the box and from some 13 meters launched a smart shot which went by De Sanctis to finish just at the left bar of the goal and end up in the net. One of the master pieces of this Serie A season. And then, instead of Napoli to start attacking, the opposite occurred. Only 3 minutes after the opener, Mauri had another more favorable chance to make it 2-0 after a lovely pass by Brocchi, but the ball finished just wide.
This is by no means the most interesting and entertaining 45 minutes of this Serie A season. Lazio began the half by moving smart around the field and again leaving no space to Napoli players. Brocchi, Bresciano, Gonzales were great to apply pressure on Napoli players, in particular midfielders who struggled to the ball forward. Lazio had open spaces to attack in the counter and this is exactly what happened when Zarate was brought down some 25 meters from the goal. Garrido took the kick, made an awsome cross which found Dias who stretched his leg and put the ball past De Sanctis. It was 0-2: unbelievable.
And this is where the luck and objective refereeing abandoned us. As expected, Napoli now began to attack with basically all players and all sides. They could have done nothing if there were not 2 set pieces which were identical in the essence. First there was a cross inside the box, cleared by one of our players. The ball goes towards the out line but somehow Dossena reached it and fired a header from a close range to surprise Muslera. It was 1-1. Shortly after, the same occurred but from a different angle. Cross; cleared by Lazio defenders which goes towards the out line; the ball is caught by a Napoli player who makes a great header pass to Cavani who was not followed. The latter had no difficulty netting. 2-2 in a matter of minutes and everything started to fall down.
Lazi did not surrender and started to attack. Brocchi found himself with a ball some 20 meters from the goal; he fired a powerful shot which went past De Sanctis, hit the cross bar, entered inside the goal and went out (very similar to England vs Germany in the last World Cup). Referee ruled the ball had not entered the ball and Lazio were automatically denied a clear goal. Nevertheless, only second after, Lazio again got hold off of the ball and after a cross inside the box Napoli defender scored an own goal and it was 2-3. Amazing.
To make things even worse after the dissallowed goal, the referee shortly after give a penalty to Napoli after Cavani dived (at least that was obvious to me) which resulted in Biava being sent off. It was the decisive moment of the match as Napoli equalized and had a player more and a massive crowed wishing for a win. And that materialized when Cavani beat the offside trap and launched a smart short past Muslera to make it final 4-3.
Lazio had a smart game plan in mind. It appears Reja knows Napoli team too well. Everything was going in the right direction for Lazio. Some things still not to be analyzed. What caused Lazio defenders to lost concentration and concede to similar goals in a matter of 3-4 minutes??
Officiating requires a particular attention. It is not the first time this season Lazio is penalized in a most horrible way. While mistakes are understandable, the actually influence the match.
I don`t know about you, but I was proud of this Lazio team yesterday. They played smart against a very good Napoli side and in the most difficult venue in Serie A.