Oct 24, 2013 at 6pm UK at ​Tsirion Stadium
Apollon LimassolApollon Limassol
0-0
Lazio

Stylianou (54'), Karipidis (61')
FT

Gonzalez (50'), Ledesma (94')

Live Commentary: Apollon Limassol 0-0 Lazio - as it happened

Live Commentary: Apollon Limassol 0-0 Lazio - as it happened
© AFP
Sports Mole's text commentary of Lazio's battling Europa League draw against Cypriot side Apollon Limassol.

Lazio resumed their Europa League campaign in Cyprus tonight, looking to ease the pressure on coach Vladimir Petkovic after a tough start in Serie A with victory over Apollon Limassol.

The Aquile created a string of clear-cut opportunities in a strong opening half, but Sergio Floccari, Ederson and Hernanes were all unable to break the deadlock.

Apollon improved significantly after the break, but neither side could force a late winner as a hard-fought clash finished goalless.

Look back on a tight clash from Group J with Sports Mole's minute-by-minute commentary below.


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5.32pmEvening European football fans. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for another marathon Thursday from the Europa League, with our focus here on Lazio's trip to Apollon Limassol as they look to consolidate their position in Group J.

5.34pmA midweek jaunt to Cyprus should serve as a welcome distraction for Lazio, who have made an inauspicious start in Serie A this season. Last weekend's 2-1 defeat at Atalanta was their third loss in eight league games, piling the pressure on coach Vladimir Petkovic.

5.36pmPetkovic was forced to angrily deny reports that he offered to resign on Sunday night, insisting that he remains focused on changing Lazio's fortunes. The Aquile reached the semi-finals of this competition last season and with largely the same squad will be confident of another long run in the Europa once again.

5.38pmInjuries have not helped Lazio's cause, with the likes of Abdoulay Konko joining suspended club captain Stefano Mauri on the sidelines. Petkovic has a relatively small squad and needs his attacking players to start performing quickly, with Hernanes in particular receiving criticism from the Italian media in recent weeks.

5.41pmApollon will be doing their best to heap further misery on the Romans tonight, and should be buoyed by a credible victory away at Legia Warsaw in their last European action. The Cypriots beat Nice over two legs to reach this stage so should not be taken lightly by any means.

5.43pmBREAKING TEAM NEWS! Lazio were expected to make changes tonight and have rotated accordingly, with the likes of Sergio Floccari given a chance to impress in Cyprus. A full look at both starting XIs will follow in just a few moments.

5.45pmAPOLLON: Bruno Vale; Stylianou, Merkis, Karipidis, Vasiliou; Hamdani, Gullon; Sangoy, Meriem, Papoulis, Sangoy; Roberto

5.47pmLAZIO: Marchetti; Cavanda, Cana, Novaretti, Radu; Gonzalez, Hernanes, Ledesma, Keita; Ederson; Floccari

5.49pmPetkovic has made no fewer than six changes this evening, with the most notable omission forced by an injury to Senad Lulic. Alvaro Gonzalez and Ederson come in to add experience in central midfield, with Floccari pushed further forward to lead the line.

5.51pmLulic's loss with a thigh strain may well be keenly felt by the Aquile tonight, although Stefan Radu does make a welcome return at full-back to help cushion the blow. Floccari should be a player to watch this evening, after coming off the bench to score a late brace in a 3-3 draw with Trabzonspor three weeks ago.

5.53pmApollon meanwhile are without French winger Bertrand Robert tonight, which means veteran Spanish striker Robert will be supported by Fotis Papoulis and Gaston Sangoy.

5.56pmPREDICTION! Lazio may have played well below their potential this season but I fully expect a reaction this evening, after Petkovic has been forced to slam quit reports for most of this week. I'll go for Floccari to net in a 2-1 win for the visitors, but only after surviving a scare from Limassol.

5.59pmHere we go then in Cyprus, can Lazio stay top of Group J or will Limassol get their first ever victory over Italian opposition at the third attempt. We are about to find out!

2 minLimassol get us underway and quickly win a free kick after Balde brings down Stylianou.

4 minLazio decide to keep the ball deep in their own hald for a spell, before Hernanes drives through the middle and just evades Floccari's dart inside the penalty area. The Apollon faithful are creating quite an atmosphere behind one goal.

7 minLazio are pressing the action as youngster Balde breaks down the wing, sending a teasing low cross just beyond Floccari's just run to the far post. Balde has looked lively early on, as he flashes a low strike well wide after driving inside soon after.

9 minThe visitors are dominating as Floccari drops deep to receive possession, allowed to run 10 yards before smashing a speculative drive wide from distance. Apollon are yet to get going in this one, as Ederson is penalised for a foul in central midfield.

11 minGROUP J UPDATE! With Hernanes dictating play there is just time to give a goal update from tonight's other game in Group J, with Trabzonspor taking an early lead against Legia Warsaw.

13 minCavanda is put under superb pressure from Hamdani as Apollon threaten for the first time. His quick pass sets up Papoulis for a strike at goal, which he drags wide of the near post under pressure. Much more encouraging signs from the hosts there, as Radu smashes over from a full 40 yards at the other end.

16 minLedesma's deep free kick is headed clear by Apollo but they are soon forced to retreat once more by a direct run from Balde Kieta, who is eventually forced wide and into a mistake by strong defending from Stylianou.

18 minApollon definitely carry a threat on the counter, but after winning the ball in midfield Meriem's attempted switch falls short and ends a promising break.

21 minAnother bright run from Balde has Lazio on the offensive, but his flash wide shows a lack of composure in the final third. Lazio are still looking to create a clear-cut opportunity.

24 minFloccari wins a dangerous free kick for the visitors out wide, after going down following a lengthy tussle with Merkis. From the following set piece Hernanes picks up the ball just outside the area, flashing just wide of the near post.

27 minMISS! Ederson has just gone within inches of breaking the deadlock and should probably score. The Brazilian met a clever flick at the far post from Balde's corner kick, but unmarked from eight yards could only direct his header over the crossbar. The Brazilian knows he had to do better from that range.

30 minBalde's trickery has been a problem for Apollon tonight and his latest mazy dribble draws a foul from Gullon, who is fortunate not to be cautioned for a cynical late lunge.

33 minFloccari makes a clever run inside and unleashes a quick snap-shot from 25 yards, which is blocked behind for a corner kick. Balde's corner then finds Floccari at the far post, but off balance the striker is unable to make firm contact with a header that stays in play on the far side.

36 minCHANCE! Apollon are living dangerously as they fail to deal with Ederson's cross into the six-yard box. A poor clearance eventually falls to Hernanes, who twists and turns before flashing a low shot inches beyond the far post.

39 minRoberto has rarely threatened in attack for Apollon but forces Cavanda to stay on his toes, after putting the full-back under pressure out wide. The Spaniard looks isolated but so far Lazio have been unable to make their bright start count.

42 minBruno comes out to collect Ederson's latest cross towards Floccari, with a quick goal kick forcing Cana to foul Roberto around 30 yards from goal at the other end.

44 minFloccari's latest drive forward sees him beat two players to break clear in the penalty area, but Apollon goalkeeper Bruno does just enough to force the forward wide towards the touchline. Another narrow escape for the hosts.

6.48pmHALF-TIME Apollon 0-0 Lazio

6.51pmAn encouraging response from Lazio in that first half, but they have failed to turn that relative dominance into an advantage on the scoreboard.

6.54pmLazio have looked threatening every time that have ventured forward, with Balde's pace and creative flair from Hernanes and Ederson providing plenty of outlets. Ederson had without doubt the best chance of the opening half, but flashed a header wide from point-blank range.

6.57pmFloccari has been the most consistent threat for Lazio, showing intent to drop off and help link play effectively for large parts of the first half. Apollon have rode their luck but are still level, so should be optimistic about their chances in the second half.

7.00pmBENCH WATCH! A both teams emerge for the second half it's just worth noting that Lazio have plenty of option in reserve if they fail to force a breakthrough. Young striker Perea is the most likely option for Petkovic, while Felipe Anderson is another Brazilian with creative spark waiting in the wings.

45 minThe second half is underway as Apollon and Lazio both give away possession cheaply, with Hamdani then shut down out wide.

48 minApollon's brightest opening by some distance as Meriem delivers a dangerous free kick towards the back post, which is knocked behind by Floccari. Marchetti gives the forward plenty of praise for that important interception, which is not far from creeping in at his own near post.

52 minThat worry looks to have woken Lazio up as they charge down the right flank, with Gonzalez smashing wide from a tight angle. Ederson is then cynically hacked over by Vasillou in the next passage of play, but once again the referee shows lenience and decides not to produce a caution.

55 minYELLOW CARD! Stylianou becomes the second player cautioned after flying into a late challenge out wide, joining Gonzalez in the referee's notebook. Soon after Novaretti returns the favour with a foul on Vassilou, handing the initiative back to Limassol.

58 minCHANCE! Apollon are warming to the task as Papoulis just scoops a curling effort over the crossbar, which Marchetti wisely decided to leave as it floated beyond goal. This game is still very much there for the taking.

62 minYELLOW CARD! Karipidis is the next Apollon player to be cautioned following a cynical challenge in midfield. Lazio are finally starting to match their possession count from the first half, as Ederson smashes a strike towards goal that is well held by Bruno.

65 minKeita has been quiet in this second half, but strides forward to win a corner kick from Stylianou. His corner kick picks out Novaretti after he leaps highest in the penalty area, but the Argentine is always leaning back and cannot get his effort on target.

68 minMore strong running from Balde creates another strike for Lazio, but his low effort drags wide. The Senegalese youngster probably should have done better after driving inside, with Lazio's frustrations continuing.

71 minSUBSTITUTION: Lazio make their first change in search of a more direct threat in attack, as Perea replaces Floccari. The Aquile have less than 20 minutes to force a winner, as they bid to stay top of Group J.

74 minCavanda deals with a long pass under pressure as Apollon's latest long ball forward is repelled, with Lazio winning a corner kick at the other as Ledesma's drive is deflected behind by a late block.

77 minHernanes takes the corner for Lazio but his delivery is straight down the throat of Bruno, who claims with minimum fuss. Lazio have failed to create a clear-cut opportunity in the second half, probing without finding a killer pass.

80 minApollon look to be through on goal as Roberto controls a superb through ball from Papoulis, but an ever better last-ditch tackle from Novaretti denies the Spaniard a free strike at goal. One mistake will prove decisive now at this late stage.

83 minHernanes shifts the ball brilliantly inside to leave his marker for dead, but is met by a wall of Apollon defenders as he looks to pull the trigger. The Brazilian's deflected effort is blocked behind but once again Lazio fail to make the most of a set-piece opportunity.

85 minSUBSTITUTION: Lazio have made a late change as Felipe Anderson replaces Balde, looking to provide a creative spark in the closing stages. His impact is almost immediate as he floats a clever chip over the top towards Ederson, but the flag is soon up for offside.

87 minHernanes spurns another strong opening for Lazio after his late run into the penalty area was untracked, scooping wide from 12 yards. That might well be Lazio's final chance of the night as we head towards stoppage time.

89 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Both teams make rather conservative late changes, with Onazi replacing Gonzalez for Lazio.

90 min+1CHANCE! Just before stoppage time Apollon have come close to snatching all three points through Meriem. The midfielder broke clear of two challenges after robbing possession from Cavanda, but from 20 yards a fierce effort swerved late beyond Marchetti's near post.

90 min+2Too elaborate from Lazio in the final third, as Ederson attempts to beat a second defender rather than square to Anderson. A lack of cutting edge has been the story of their evening.

7.53pmFULL-TIME Apollon 0-0 Lazio

7.55pmBoth sides are forced to settle for a point then on a frustrating night for Lazio, who spurned a string of clear-cut opportunities. They have now taken five points from three games in Group J, just a single point ahead of Apollon!

7.57pmThat brings an end to our live coverage from Cyprus, but be sure to stick with Sports Mole as we follow Fiorentina's fortunes in the Europa League in just a few moments time. Good evening!

Lazio's Honorato Ederson is congratulated by teammates after scoring the opening goal against Catania during their Serie A match on September 25, 2013
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Napoli98102652125
2Inter Milan97201751223
3Lazio861121101119
4Juventus86112171419
5Sampdoria8521169717
6Roma7502145915
7Bologna842288014
8Torino83411413113
9AC Chievo VeronaChievo833299012
10AC Milan84041213-112
11Fiorentina83141211110
12Atalanta BCAtalanta8233131309
13CagliariCagliari8206614-86
14Hellas VeronaHellas Verona8134416-126
15Crotone9135619-136
16Udinese82061315-26
17Genoa8125813-55
18SassuoloSassuolo8125415-115
19SPALSPAL8125714-75
20BeneventoBenevento8008219-170
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