Coppa Italia glory for Lazio
Senad Lulic settled a frenzied Rome derby to seal Coppa Italia glory for Lazio in a 1-0 victory over eternal rivals Roma.
Last Updated: 26/05/13 8:36pm
Senad Lulic settled a frenzied Rome derby with a composed finish to seal Coppa Italia glory for Lazio at the expense of eternal rivals Roma.
All eyes were on the Stadio Olimpico for what promised to be a Derby della Capitale like no other.
The bragging rights were at stake, but victory also promised entry into the Europa League and, in Roma's case, the chance to make history.
However, in the event Roma would not become the first club to win 10 Coppa titles and add a silver star to their shirts, as Lulic's unceremonious goal in the 77th minute left the Giallorossi devoid of honours for another year.
The first half was an intense affair, one thick with nervous aggression, and the bitter rivals appeared gripped by fear.
Referee Daniele Orsato showed the first of eight yellow cards in the first minute as Cristian Ledesma introduced himself to Marquinho.
Rome blinked first, with Bogdan Lobont parrying Lulic's long-range effort into the feet of Miroslav Klose, who blasted wide.
After Federico Balzaretti was booked for fouling Antonio Candreva in the 11th minute, the latter scuffed wide with Lulic screaming for the ball.
Francesco Totti's effort on 25 minutes streaked into row Z at a bouncing Olimpico and quickfire cards for Marquinho and Hernanes preceded the best opportunity of a tense first half.
Lazio's German hitman Klose steamed onto a floated cross to bullet a header beyond Lobont, whose lightning-quick reactions saw the ball flicked up and away to safety.
Tensions quickly boiled over with Klose entering Orsato's book for his scruffy tussle with Nicolas Burdisso but, to great relief on both sides of the city, nothing had been decided at half-time.
Lobont needed two attempts to sweep up a treacherous cross from Candreva as play resumed.
Mattia Destro soon skipped past Ledesma, who would soon limp off for substitute Stefano Mauri, only to blast over the bar.
A niggly game opened up for its final 30 minutes, though, with Lulic throwing himself at a Candreva cross to the back post but stumbling into the advertising hoardings.
Hernanes' wayward follow-up almost turned into an assist for Klose but the German came up short.
Adrenaline levels were increasing exponentially and Lazio finally released the pressure.
Lobont had been solid in the first half but he flapped helplessly at a Candreva cross in the 77th minute, and could only watch on as Lulic steered home an easy tap-in.
Lulic was promptly booked for his overzealous tackle on Marquinhos and moments later Roma thought they had an equaliser.
Totti's free-kick seemed goalbound but Federico Marchetti tipped the ball on to the bar.
With emotions running high, Burdisso earned the seventh yellow card of the match for protesting Dodo's foul throw.
Roma substitute Panagiotis Tachtsidis was dismissed from the bench the same offence, before Totti finally entered Orsati's book for dissent.
Four minutes of added time were a recipe for one last moment of drama and that fell to Mauri, who should have made the result safe at the end of a searing counter-attack.
But when the final whistle blew, Lazio had claimed their sixth Coppa Italia title, the upper hand in the Italian capital, and another ticket to Europe.