Roma and Lazio’s defensive frailties laid bare in thrilling Derby della Capitale

Date: 27th September 2021 at 12:09pm
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There was much for Jose Mourinho to ponder at the full-time whistle as he lost his first-ever Rome derby thanks to a lacklustre performance from his Roma side in Sunday evening’s big Serie A clash.

The Giallorossi were on the back foot straight from the off. Lazio played with an intensity and cohesion that had not been seen under Maurizio Sarri, which led to the first half of this fixture having three goals for the first time since November 2012.

It only took Lazio 10 minutes to go 1-0 up when Felipe Anderson hit a flighted cross onto the penalty spot where Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was on hand to beat Rui Patricio to the ball and head home. The Roma goalkeeper was booked for the way he collided with the Serbian.

That was a landmark goal for the midfielder as he overtook current Bologna coach Sinisa Mihajlovic in the rankings for highest scoring Serbian’s ever to play in Serie A. Only Adem Ljajic and Dejan Stankovic have more than the Lazio man now.

The worrying element of that goal for Jose Mourinho is that Milinkovic-Savic ghosted in between Gianluca Mancini and Rick Karsdorp who appeared totally unaware of his presence. As became a theme in the game, the whole defence had shifted to one side to cover the run of Ciro Immobile, who was outstanding all evening.

Roma began to attack Lazio without looking too dangerous, and it sparked a counterattack from the Biancocelesti. As Ciro Immobile ran down the left channel, he had Mancini for company. Roger Ibanez decided to come across and get far too close to the action which opened a cavernous space for Pedro to run into.

The ex-Roma man ghosted past Bryan Cristante who appeared to be running in sand and Immobile found his teammate who hit a precise low finish into the bottom corner from 18 yards. He did not hold back in his celebrations as he became the third player in history to score for both sides in the Derby della Capitale.

This was the goal that sparked Roma into life and it became clear that they were going to score very soon. Lazio were struggling to cope with the overlaps from Nicolo Zaniolo and Stephan El Shaaraway and they could not seem to win the first header from Roma corners.

Half time came at the wrong point in Roma’s ascendency as the whistle was blown just a few minutes after Ibanez headed a goal back from a Jordan Veretout corner. At this point in the game, Roma deserved a goal as Lazio had been penned in and resorted to some relatively chaotic defending.

The second half began in much the same vein with Roma hunting for that all-important equaliser but, on the hour mark, their work was undone. Lazio won the ball in midfield and despite starting his run from behind Mancini, Immobile got on the end of a wonderful through-ball from Luis Alberto.

The Italy striker cut back inside which removed Mancini from the equation, Ibanez made a beeline for the goal line but Immobile unselfishly squared the ball to the onrushing Felipe Anderson who was supposed to be tracked by Matias Vina, who had a very difficult game. He was five yards behind the attacker all the way and the Brazilian fired Lazio into a 3-1 lead.

Roma finally got their second goal that came from Lazio’s difficulty in containing the movement of Zaniolo. His quick feet and powerful running was a problem for Elseid Hysaj and Adam Marusic all evening.

The youngster made a persistent run into the box having already had one powerful shot blocked, and then went to ground under a challenge from Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro. Replays didn’t appear to show any contact at all but the referee was not called over to the monitor to review his decision.

Veretout dispatched the penalty and despite pressure from the Roma attackers throughout the final 20 minutes, both teams looked too tired to find a way through.

Jose Mourinho will be extremely concerned by how little cohesion there seemed to be between his four defenders throughout the match, and the minimal cover they were given by Bryan Cristante. The back four looked unnatural throughout the match and they likely will be made to study those three Lazio goals in depth over the next week or so.

As for Maurizio Sarri, he will be thrilled by what he saw his team do in attack. He will know, though, that on another day Roma could well have been level at the break and his team looked very vulnerable since they sat back and invited the pressure from the Giallorossi.

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