Real secure top spot
Lazio were knocked out of Europe as they lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in Champions League Group C.
By Lewis Rutledge
Last Updated: 11/12/07 10:37pm
Real Madrid clinched top spot in UEFA Champions League Group C with a convincing 3-1 victory over Lazio that knocked the Italian side out of Europe.
They opened up a 3-0 half-time lead through Julio Baptista, Raul and Robinho and the second half was merely a procession, although Goran Pandev did score a late consolation and Tommaso Rocchi then missed a penalty in the final seconds of the game.
Lazio needed to win to qualify for the last 16 and they played positively for the first few minutes, pushing forward and looking to take advantage of any nerves in the Real defence.
However, Mourad Meghni wasted a good chance as he blazed a shot over the bar following good work from Rocchi, and from that point on Real took complete control.
Raul had already headed against the crossbar by the time Baptista broke the deadlock in the 13th minute with a curled effort into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Three minutes later Raul continued his tremendous goalscoring run in the Champions League by climbing above Cristian Ledesma and directing a header past Marco Ballotta from Robinho's pinpoint cross.
It could have been 3-0 to Real within 20 minutes had the referee's assistant not ruled in favour of Lazio on a marginal offside decision, as Raul latched onto the ball and finished with aplomb.
Lazio then mounted a spirited but all too brief fightback, with Pandev smashing a shot just past Iker Casillas' right-hand post.
Real looked dangerous every time they ventured forward and they cut through Lazio's backline with ruthless precision on 36 minutes as Ruud van Nistelrooy combined with Robinho and the Brazilian slotted the ball past Ballotta.
Robinho and Wesley Sneijder made way for Arjen Robben and Guti at the break and the introduction of fresh legs helped Real tighten their grip on the game.
Lazio are languishing in the bottom half of Serie A this season and they looked a team with little belief as Real's assured passing left them chasing shadows.
One swift break from Real resulted in Robben testing Ballotta's agility with a swerving shot struck with the outside of his boot.
Robben was clearly in the mood as he tried his luck again with an ambitious attempt from wide on the right that landed on the netting above the goal.
Van Nistelrooy had also been a constant menace all night and he received a huge ovation as he left the pitch to be replaced by Gonzalo Higuain on 73 minutes.
Pandev pulled a goal back for Lazio in the 81st minute as he turned in Rocchi's pass from close range, although he paid a painful price as he skidded straight into the post.
Real sat a little deeper in the final stages just to guard against a late turnaround, but they did concede a penalty as Pepe handled in the area.
Casillas saved Rocchi's spot-kick comfortably as Lazio bowed out of the Champions League and also missed out on third spot.