UEFA Champions League: Zenit 1-1 Lazio

On Wednesday, November 4, 2020, the Gazprom Arena hosted FC Zenit Saint Petersburg vs Lazio in Matchday 3 of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League. The final score was 1-1 draw; Group G now looks as follows:

  1. Lazio: 1W-2D-0L (5 points)
  2. Club Brugge: 1W-1D-0L (4 points)
  3. Borussia Dortmund: 1W-0D-1L (3 points)
  4. Zenit: 0W-1D-2L (1 points)
2020/21 UEFA Champions League, Zenit 1-1 Lazio
2020/21 UEFA Champions League, Zenit 1-1 Lazio
Referees

The Head Referee for this clash was Artur Soares Dias, the Assistant Referees were Rui Tavares and Paulo Soares, the Fourth Official was Antonio Emanuel Carvalho Nobre, and the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was Tiago Martins with the assistance of Luis Godinho.

Managers

Zenit: Sergei Semak

Lazio: Simone Inzaghi

Starting Lineups & Substitutions

Zenit (4-4-2): M. Kerzhakov; Karavaev, Lovren, Rakitskiy, Douglas Santos; Zhirkov (78′ Krugovoy), Barrios, Ozdoev (90’+1′ Sutormin); Kuzyaev (90’+1′ Wendel), Dzyuba, Erokhin (61′ Mostovoy)

Lazio (3-5-2): Reina; Patric, Hoedt, Acerbi; Marusic, Akpa Akpro, Parolo (51′ Cataldi), Milinkovic-Savic, Fares (59′ Pereira); Correa (85′ Luiz Felipe), Muriqi (59′ Caicedo)

Goalscorers

Zenit: Erokhin (32′)

Lazio: Caicedo (82′)

Player Ratings

Simone Inzaghi 7 | Reina 6; Patric 6.5, Hoedt 7, Acerbi 6.5; Marusic 6.5, Akpa Akpro 6.5, Parolo 6 (Cataldi 6.5), Milinkovic-Savic 6.5, Fares 5.5 (Pereira 6); Correa 6.5 (Luiz Felipe), Muriqi 6 (Caicedo 7)

Recap

Lazio came into this match against Zenit with a depleted squad (due to injury and Covid-19) which forced coach Simone Inzaghi to call up several Primavera players. While a tough challenge away from home – especially considering that there would be fans cheering on the Russian Premier League side in the Gazprom Arena – the Biancocelesti were looking to ride their recent positive form and push for all three points. Lining up in Inzaghi’s preferred 3-5-2 formation, only two changes were made from the team that started against Torino in their late (and dramatic) 4-3 victory this past weekend. These two changes were Patric for Luiz Felipe (at right centre back) and Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro for Andreas Pereira (in central midfield).

Both teams started this game very cautiously, testing each other out by not forcing anything and trying to keep hold of possession. In addition, referee Artur Dias made it very clear that he would not be tolerating too much. He booked both Akpa Akpro and Daler Kuzyaev on their first challenges within the first 10 minutes which forced everyone on the pitch to remain concentrated.

After several back and forth plays which resulted in nothing too exciting, Zenit finally had a breakthrough just after the 30′. A ball was whipped into the box from the left side of the pitch, and as each Lazio defender failed to cover their respective man, Artem Dzyuba was able to head the ball back across the six-yard box to an unmarked Aleksandr Erokhin who smashed a volley past Pepe Reina. Lazio responded well, picking up the tempo and trying to break through the Zenit lines; however, the match would remain 1-0 in favour of the Russian side as the first half came to an end.

In the second half, most fans expected Lazio to be the side that came out energized and ready to make a comeback. However, the exact opposite happened. Zenit seemed the more threatening side and looked likely to score a second; their best chance came from Andrei Mostovoy just seconds into his arrival from the bench. He used his pace to race down the left flank and create a scoring opportunity, but his shot went just wide of the opposite post.

While this match continued to look as if it would finish 1-0, just after the 80′, super-sub Felipe Caicedo had other ideas in mind. After securing all three against Torino, he rescued a  point for Lazio through an exquisitely low-hit volley off a cross from the left flank.

Zenit pushed for the late winner and thought they had one when Mostovoy scored in the 90+1′, but it was ruled out as Dzyuba was offside in the build-up and the match ended 1-1.