Game in a sentence

After a series of missed opportunities, Miroslav Klose’s superb goal in the 82nd minute leads Lazio past Inter Milan in a grueling contest at the Stadio Olimpico.

Observations

  • A top of the table clash in Serie A is always fun. One with the sub plots of this game are even better. Inter traveled to Rome without Wesley Sneijder, even though Andrea Stramaccioni was without the services of Stankovic, Mudingayi and Joel Obi. Lazio striker Miroslav Klose returned from injury — Salto-Klose would make his presence felt often.
  • In a rarity — at least in the Serie A matches I’ve seen thus far — both teams employed four at the back to begin. This made for an incredibly compact game with few offensive breaks early on. Inter’s attacking duo of Cassano and Milito were invisible in the first half. The visitors only had two attempts on goal in the first 45.
  • Lazio’s excellent organization coupled with an impressive attack led by Hernanes spelled domination for the Biancocelesti. The Brazilian midfielder linked up with Klose extremely well, threatening Inter’s stout back four on numerous occasions. With that said Lazio was extremely poor around the Inter goal.
  • A dour half was enlivened by a Lazio penalty claim in the 42nd minute. Klose was ‘brought down’ — explanation for air quotes forthcoming  — by Álvaro Pereira in the box. As the striker howled at the ref, replays indicated Klose may have had a legitimate claim though it looked like an accidental trip. The Inter conspiracy theorists added to their dossier.
  • This was a tactical battle, as it seems to be most times these teams play. Inter has drawn 51 times when facing Lazio — the most ties accrued against any Serie A club. I should note most times the phrase ‘tactical battle’ is used the game being referred to is almost unwatchable. This wasn’t the case, but something needed to happen soon.
  • The second half didn’t disappoint. Inter pushed three up front, creating a series of chances that drew a slew of fantastic saves from Federico Marchetti. Cassano, Milito and Fredy Guarín all threatened goal, the latter smacking the post in the 66th minute. Moments later Marchetti pushed a Cassano attempt off the post and proceeded to make an amazing reaction save on Yuto Nagatomo’s rebound attempt. Word class goal keeping.
  • Momentum was with the visitors, but Inter’s failure to capitalize on five minutes of domination would be their undoing.
  • The man of the match — for both positive and negative reasons– was Klose. Though they were making headway up front, Inter’s defence became disjointed in the latter stages of the match. Klose would get an excellent opportunity on goal only to flop to the ground, diving in egregious manner.
  • The football gods would look the other way, as Klose would score the game’s only goal in the 82nd minute. An excellent through ball from Stefano Mauri found Klose, sitting in the middle of a triangle of Inter defenders. The finish was superb, but I couldn’t get the image of his ridiculous theatrics out of my mind. You’re better than that, Miroslav.
  • Inter fails to narrow the four point gap between them and leaders Juventus. It was a fair result after they spent the first half doing nothing at all. Chalk another moral victory up for Vladimir Petkovic.

Three stars

1. Miroslav Klose

2. Hernanes

3. Javier Zanetti