A tired Lazio were unable to hold onto their early lead and fell to AZ Alkmaar 2-1 in the first leg of their Europa Conference League Round of 16 tie.
Positivity was high in the Biancocelesti camp after their unexpected 1-0 win away to league leaders Napoli on the weekend, but the team were unable to replicate that mature performance on the European stage, leaving a frustrated Maurizio Sarri to pace up and down the touchline.
Lazio reached this stage of the competition after edging out a 1-0 aggregate win over CFR Cluj in their knock-out playoff clash, a result of their relegation from the Europa League.
Sarri’s side have never looked as convincing in Europe as they have done in Serie A this season and that was unfortunately no different against AZ.
Pedro put Lazio ahead after just 18 minutes following a beautiful run from Mattia Zaccagni, whose low-driven cross was met well by the Spanish veteran, who guided the ball home to make it 1-0.
The Biancocelesti were unable to maintain this early energy and allowed Vangelis Pavlidis to find an equaliser just before the end of the half following a misplaced pass in the build-up, leaving things 1-1 after 45 minutes.
AZ looked the more motivated of the two sides in the second half and their hard work was rewarded in the 63rd minute, when a fast and well-worked counter attack from AZ put Milos Kerkez in the position to find the back of the net, making things 2-1.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic almost immediately found the equaliser for Lazio but his attempt ricocheted off the crossbar, a sign that this just wasn’t the team’s night in the Italian capital.
Both sides continued to push in the final 30 minutes but neither could find their goal, allowing AZ Alkmaar to leave Rome 2-1 victors after a lethargic outing from Lazio.