Sports Mole's text coverage of Lazio's comfortable Europa League success away to Group J rivals Legia Warsaw.
By Liam Power, Reporter Filed: Thursday, November 28, 2013 at 17:33 UK
Last Updated: Thursday, November 28, 2013 at 21:44 UK
Lazio travelled to Legia Warsaw for a Europa League Group J clash tonight, looking for a victory to maintain their unbeaten European campaign and book a place in the knockout stages.
The visitors named a strong side and took the lead midway through the first half, with Brayan Perea heading home from close range.
Legia threatened on the break but their miserable run of results continued as the Italian giants pushed further ahead after the break, thanks to a clinical finish from Felipe Anderson.
Look back at a professional performance for the Serie A giants with Sports Mole's minute-by-minute text coverage below.
5.35pmEvening European football fans. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for another marathon Thursday in the Europa League, as the race for places in the knockout stages draws to a close. One side on the verge of booking their ticket for the last 32 is Lazio, and they can confirm their position with victory over Legia Warsaw tonight.
5.38pmLazio have been relatively comfortable in the Europa League so far this season, building on a run to the semi-finals in last season's competition with an assured start in Group J. Two wins and two draws have not been enough to guarantee their spot in the next round just yet though, giving the Aquile more work to do this evening.
5.41pmVladimir Petkovic remains under pressure though, with Lazio off the pace in Serie A and a whopping 17 points behind bitter city rivals Roma. Europe could offer a welcome distraction this season, giving young players the chance to shine without the fight for Serie A points hanging over them.
5.44pmLegia meanwhile will have to dig deep tonight to avoid more disappointment on the continent, after a fairly underwhelming Europa League campaign to date. The Polish giants have failed to win a single one of their four games in Group J, ruling out any possibility of progression with two games to spare.
5.47pmBREAKING TEAM NEWS! We have just received word on the starting XIs from Warsaw and unsurprisingly Lazio have taken the chance to field a few fringe players tonight, with the likes of Brayan Perea out to impress tonight. A full look at both lineups will follow in just a few moments.
5.53pmPetkovic has decided to take no chances with the fitness of Sergio Floccari tonight with Miroslav Klose out injured, which means youngster Perea leads the line flanked by Felipe Anderson and Keita. Ederson is left on the bench despite being a Europa League regular this season, with Hernanes adding experience in an advanced midfield role.
5.56pmPREDICTION! With Legia having so little to play for I fully expect Lazio to pick up all three points this evening, despite struggling against inferior opposition on a similar trip to Cyprus last month. I'll go for Keita to enhance his growing reputation with a goal in a 2-0 win for the Eternal City giants.
5.59pmThe two teams are out at a sparsely populated stadium in Warsaw, with thankfully no visible signs of the trouble which has reportedly seen as many as 17 Lazio fans arrested prior to kickoff. A reminder that Lazio will confirm their place in the next round with a victory tonight.
0 minWe are underway in Warsaw, with Legia attacking from left to right as they get this Group J clash off after a slight delay, with at least two Lazio players taking more than two minutes to do their laces up on the touchline. A shout from Petkovic eventually sees the pair speed up so we can begin.
2 minStefan Radu was the guilty party, sprinting on to jeers from a noisy home crowd. Legia quickly settle in possession from deep, until Hernanes drops deep to snuff out any chance of an early attack.
4 minCavanda is clipped by Brzyski to give Lazio an early free kick out wide, although a powerful delivery from Hernanes fails to beat the first defender. Perea then just fails to nick the ball from his marker, allowing Legia to clear their lines.
6 minLazio are beginning to threaten as Keita breaks clear out wide, but his cross falls just behind Perea in the penalty area. Expect the former Barcelona academy starlet to use his pace on similar runs regularly this evening.
8 minMISS! The first clear-cut chance of the evening and it falls to Lazio midfielder Felipe Anderson, who smashes wide after finding space in the penalty area with a neat first touch. The Brazilian really should have done better from 12 yards, clearing the crossbar after leaning into an effort off-balance.
11 minCiani inadvertently gives Berisha something to do for the first time tonight, forcing his goalkeeper out to hook clear a short backpass. The visitors must stay patient here as they probe for the opening goal.
14 minKeita is causing all kinds of problems for his marker Bereszynski, beating him for pace once again to send a drilled low cross towards the six-yard box. Legia initially fail to clear as the ball bounces kindly for Gonzalez, but he is denied by a brilliant block as the hosts survive once again.
17 minLazio are keeping possession comfortably as Cavanda attempts a speculative volley from range, but can only send a tame central effort through to Kuciak for a straight-forward save.
20 minLegia are beginning to look more likely on the counter, but in truth they look content to sit and wait for Lazio to make a mistake. A fairly drab start to be fair.
26 minThe visitors have the breakthrough courtesy of a poacher's finish from Perea, who initially failed to control Biglia's floated cross properly. After allowing the ball to rise high in the area though the youngster reacted quickest to meet the falling ball, heading into the corner with authority. Advantage Lazio!
29 minDvalishvili almost offers an instant reply for Legia as the visitors are caught napping moments after scoring. A curling cross fell to Dvalishvili inside the penalty area, but he could not find the target despite having time to find either corner. A warning for Lazio to guard against complacency there.
32 minKeita has the freedom of the flank to pick out another inviting cross, presenting Perea with a wonderful opportunity to double his tally at the far post. The Colombian striker fails to make proper contact though, skewing wide with the goal at his mercy.
35 minMore signs of Legia pressure as the game begins to open up a touch, with Ciani deciding on safety first with a clearance that goes behind for a corner kick. The hosts are unable to test Berisha when the corner comes in, with Lazio clearing their lines.
38 minCavanda puts the visitors under unnecessary pressure by conceding a foul inside his own half, but once again Legia's delivery from set pieces lacks quality as Furman fails to beat the first defender at the near post.
41 minNeat skill from Radovic sets up Legia's best opening of the night so far, cutting inside to let fly from just outside the penalty area. His effort lacks power though, trickling low and wide of Berisha's far post.
44 minRadovic jinks his way inside once more as Radu is caught in two minds, but it's deja vu for the winger as he is unable to generate enough force on a strike from range to make Berisha work. Encouraging signs for the Poles before the break.
45 min+1Lazio are being made to work for their slender advantage as Dvalishvili's strike hits Biglia full in the face from close range. That was a brave, if unintentional block from the Argentine international moments before the interval.
6.55pmLazio lead at the break thanks to an instinctive finish from Perea, but it has been far from plain sailing for the visitors. Legia came after alive after conceding but are still searching for their first Europa League goal of the campaign.
6.58pmThe Aquile's standout performer has been Keita, who continues to look like a bright prospect, regularly breaking down the wing with pace and purpose with a final ball to match. Perea also looks like a talent and should get chances to improve his goal tally after the interval.
7.01pmThere is plenty of reason to suggest Legia are capable of producing a second-half fightback though, with Radovic in particular carrying a threat for the Polish champions in the final third. They may be playing for pride but the hosts are still fighting to claim a first victory in the competition.
7.04pmBENCH WATCH! Both teams have options available in reserve tonight, which could help shape a tight clash. Lazio could call upon a man with a favourable Europa League goal record in Floccari, while Legia have Astiz waiting in the wings.
47 minWe are back underway and almost instantly Anderson and Perea exchange a neat one-two in the final third, which leads to registering an early strike on target from 25 yards.
50 minPerea decides to track back inside his own half and ends up committing a cheap foul on Radovic, but a common theme continues as Legia fail to threaten from the following free kick.
53 minYELLOW CARD! Hernanes works Kuciak with a powerful strike but the Legia keeper is more than equal to the effort, with Cavanda picking up a yellow card soon after for a cynical trip on Brzyski as the hosts attempted to break.
59 minLazio's Brazilian midfield duo have combined brilliantly to extend their advantage, with Felipe Anderson controlling a superb reverse pass from Hernanes before guiding a composed finish into the bottom corner. Petkovic is delighted with that one and so he should be, his side are nearly home and dry in their search for a place in the last 32!
62 minThe visitors are really starting to enjoy themselves now as Hernanes starts another drive forward, which leads to Cavanda reaching the byline before having a chipped cross deflected wide for a corner kick. Legia clear but are now staring down the barrel of a fourth Europa League defeat in five outings.
65 minGROUP J UPDATE! Just a quick word on tonight's other clash in Group J, with leaders Trabzonspor 3-0 up at home to Apollon. That win will keep the Turks two points ahead of Lazio, with the pair meeting on the final matchday in two weeks' time.
68 minLegia make their first change as Spaniard Iñaki Astiz continues his comeback from injury, replacing Furman in midfield. How the hosts would love to just grab a consolation before full time.
71 minLegia waste a strong opening after Ojamaa profited from a mistake by Lazio keeper Berisha, who comes out to head the ball straight off the Legia forward. Berisha stays down claiming contact but the hosts are allowed to continue, with Ojamaa unable to find the target from a tight angle as his low effort misses the near post. The goal drought continues, although you wouldn't know it from the noise being generate by a raucous band of Legia fans behind the goal.
74 minSUBSTITUTION: Petkovic withdraws Ketia ahead of a return to Serie A action this weekend, with Ogenyi Onazi brought on for added steel in the closing stages.
78 minThe changes are coming thick and fast as both teams add late changes, with Mikita and Floccari given the final 10 minutes to impress.
81 minOne final change for the Aqule as Senad Lulic replaces Gonzalez in central midfield, as he continues a comeback from persistent injury trouble. Very nearly a job well done for Lazio, as Legia struggle to turn late possession into any chances of note.
84 minOnazi has successive shots blocked away after Lazio broke with spare numbers in the final third, moments after Legia had a handball appeal appeal turned down in the penalty area. That just about sums up a night of frustration for the Polish champions.
87 minFloccari fires straight down Kuciak's throat as Lazio go in search of a third which would gloss to an efficient display. The sub then drops deep to link play with Lulic, but that delay allows Legia to get bodies back and clear.
90 min+1Lulic fires well over with what will probably be the final strike on goal of the night, which in truth he should have done much better with from a favourable angle. Lazio are home and dry!
7.57pmA routine victory for Lazio then, which guarantees their place in the last 32. That will wrap up our live text coverage from Warsaw, but be sure to stick with Sports Mole for comprehensive from a busy night of European action. Goodnight!