Sparta Prague 1-1 Lazio: Spoils shared as Aquile grab vital away goal
Lazio held Sparta Prague to a 1-1 draw at the Generali Arena in their Europa League last 16 first-leg clash.
Martin Frydek broke the deadlock inside 13 minutes with a rasping half-volley before Marco Parolo responded shortly before the interval to package a vital away goal for the Aquile.
Lazio threatened inside four minutes, with Parolo scuffing Stefan Radu’s deft flick inside the danger area off a Sparta defender.
The Aquile dominated during the opening exchanges but it was the hosts who struck first blood in the 13th minute.
David Lafata teed up Frydek on the edge of the area before striking a sumptuous right-footed volley off the underside of the bar and over the line.
Alessandro Matri exchanged passes with Keita Balde on the edge of the area but the Sparta goalkeeper quick off his line to foil the Italian.
Antonio Candreva then rattled the bar on 36 minutes as the Aquile cranked up the pressure.
And their pressure soon paid dividends when Parolo restored parity seconds later after Wesley Hoedt had met Lucas Biglia’s corner from close-range.
Federico Marchetti spared Milan Bisevac’s blushes on the stroke of half-time when the defender almost diverted the ball into his own net.
After cracking an effort off the crossbar in the first-half, Candreva was inches away from edging his side infront with another volley from a seemingly impossible angle.
Keita slalomed his way through a pack of Sparta defenders in the 65th minute but his effort was tame and the home side survived.
The visitors menaced on the counter-attack on 67 minutes when Keita was ushered in by Candreva but his effort lacked the sufficient power to trouble the opposing goalkeeper.
Marchetti had to be alert to repel Lukas Marecek’s effort in the 78th minute as Frydek lurked dangerously in the penalty box.
Lazio continued to exert pressure despite their away goal with Parolo nodding Biglia’s free-kick into a dangerous area.
Candreva tried his luck for a third occasion on the evening but his effort flew wide as the full-time whistle blew on an impressive display from Stefano Pioli’s side.