Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio flew to a thrilling 4-2 win over Dutch outfit Feyenoord in their Europa League opener.
The Biancocelesti came into the match keen to kickstart their European campaign well after an inconsistent start to the season domestically, and they certainly lived up to this expectation at the Stadio Olimpico tonight.
Feyenoord have been unbeaten in the Eredivisie so far this season but they failed to show their strengths in a difficult night in a match that saw them go 3-0 down within the first 30 minutes. Arne Slot’s side struggled to string together much of note, looking outclassed by the home side throughout the first 45 minutes. The Dutch side did put in a better shift in the second half, however.
Lazio started the match against Feyenoord on the front foot and almost immediately managed to put themselves ahead, with a quick set of passes allowing Luis Alberto in on goal after only four minutes, putting the team 1-0 up. Danilo Cataldi appeared to commit a handball in the build-up, infuriating the Feyenoord players and fans.
Only 11 minutes later, Felipe Anderson doubled the Biancocelesti’s lead after his speculative shot somehow managed to beat a flailing Justin Bijlow, who failed to protect the Feyenoord goal, gifting Sarri’s side a comfortable cushion for the evening.
Things went from bad to worse for the Eredivisie side in the 28th minute; Mattia Zaccagni sent in a low-driven ball into the penalty area, which was limply parried away by Bijlow straight into the path of Matias Vecino, who made no mistake from less than six yards out, putting Lazio 3-0 up.
The half-time stats perfectly paint the picture – Lazio had 70% of the ball, nine shots to Feyenoord’s four, five corners to zero, three big chances to zero and 434 passes to the Dutch side’s 180. Arguably this was the finest 45 minutes of Sarri’s Lazio seen since his arrival in Rome last summer.
Lazio’s strong play continued in the second half and after a number of attempts, they found the back of the net again in the 63rd minute, when a perfectly weighted Luis Alberto through ball was met by Vecino, who secured his second of the night.
The Uruguayan midfielder did not have a perfect evening, however. Only minutes after finding his brace, he tripped Santiago Gimenez in the box, gifting Feyenoord a penalty. The 21-year-old Mexican duly converted his spot kick, clawing one back for the away side.
In the dying minutes of the match, Feyenoord winger Oussama Idrissi pulled out a moment of magic, firing a cannon-like shot into the top corner of Ivan Provedel’s goal. His attempt ricocheted off both the crossbar and the post, and seemingly crossed the line before Gimenez poked it into the net regardless, making things 4-2.
Things got a little tense as extra time dawned; Mario Gila brought down a charging Gimenez only 12 yards out from goal, leading to the referee to immediately point to the spot. The Spaniard was booked, but things were overturned after a quick VAR check confirmed a clean challenge by the former Real Madrid man.
After an edgy few minutes after the 90, referee Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea finally blew the full time whistle, confirming Lazio’s winning start to their Europa League campaign.