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Lazio 1-1 Fiorentina: Recap and player ratings

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Fiorentina leave it late at the Olimpico as Babacar snatches a point for the Viola.

SS Lazio v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A
What an important moment that might be this season.
Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images

Pre-match

Fiorentina made a few surprise changes with Milan Badelj, Vincent Laurini and Cyril Thereau back in the starting line up. Stefano Pioli, however, stuck with the 4-3-3 formation. As for the hosts, the team was as expected with a 3-4-2-1 formation. They were hoping to bounce back from their derby defeat to AS Roma. The dangerous Ciro Immobile started, hoping to score his first ever goal against Fiorentina in Serie A

First half

Fiorentina were the first to threaten early on and had the ball in the back of the net. Thereau, however, was a mile offside as he played the ball to Giovanni Simeone who tapped it in.

It was a very positive start by the away side. On the counter Thereau drove through the middle of the pitch and unleashed a shot from 25 yards which he drove just wide of goal.

Fiorentina’s game plan was to hit Lazio on the counter. As Federico Chiesa breezed past the Lazio midfield, Fiorentina had numbers forward. The ball found its its way to Jordan Veretout in space but his shot was tame and easy for Thomas Strakosha. The Frenchman had several options to pass to a teammate including Thereau in space, and a big chance end up wasted.

Lazio however almost scored out of nothing. From outside the area, Luis Alberto placed his shot towards goal and a bobble on the shot caused Marco Sportiello problems, but the keeper was alert and tipped it round the post.

Despite a promising start form the Viola, the hosts made the breakthrough on 25 minutes through Stefan De Vrij. The Dutchman rose well from a Luis Alberto free kick and left Sportiello with no chance. German Pezzella, however, didn't do enough, as he let his man get goal side and easily get the header on target.

SS Lazio v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A
De Vrij opens the scoring
Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Benassi was beginning to pull the strings for Fiorentina: he played a delicious ball out wide to Chiesa who just about managed to keep it in and cross the ball. It came to Simeone who ballooned his shot over the bar.

Luis Alberto for Lazio was their main threat towards goal in the first half. The Spaniard came so close to scoring a second from way out as his shot just went past the far post.

Second half

Fiorentina had started the second half in such a positive manner and could have so easily equalized 7 minutes to the half. After some great play in the midfield, Thereau set through Chiesa but the Italian just couldn't open his body enough to place it in the bottom right hand corner.

On the hour Pioli made the first change of the game. It was an offensive one has he brought off Thereau to go two up top with Khouma Babacar and Giovanni Simeone operating together.

Fiorentina were doing much of the attacking in the second half but it was Lazio who almost sealed the match. Ciro Immobile, who had been incredibly quiet, bent a shot from the edge of the area but it was well saved by Sportiello.

Fiorentina had switched to a 3-5-2 system following the introduction of Vitor Hugo for Laurini and were doing much of the pressing but couldn't seem to find that creative bit of magic to unlock the Lazio defense, with plenty of shots coming from outside the area.

With a quarter of an hour to play it should have been 1-1; Benassi slipped through Babacar on the left hand side who couldn't bend it into the far corner and made it easy for Strakosha to save.

Five minutes from full time and it should have been game set and match Lazio. Jordan Lukaku floated the ball in to the box and Marco Parolo met it perfectly but hit it straight at Sportiello who still had to react superbly to deny the midfielder.

German Pezzela came so close to scoring the goal of the season. In injury time the center back hit a bicycle kick towards to goal and Starkosha pulled off a great save to deny the equalizer.

That was not the end of this one though. There was huge drama in added time, before the Pezzela chance, he had been brought down in the box. The ref played on but went back to VAR and had adjudged that Pezzella had been fouled by substitute Felipe Caicedo. A brilliant decision by the referee as it was a foul, and an excellent use of VAR.

SS Lazio v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A
Babacar slots away the equalizer
Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images

Post Match

It might not be a win but it sure feels like one, a very good result against a good Lazio team. Babacar, who clearly wasn't very well and apparently threw up on the pitch, picked himself up to confidently score the penalty. While it wasn't a flashy performance, Fiorentina got the point they deserved in the end thanks to VAR. Despite the good result Pioli got things wrong in the second half. Going to 3-5-2 took Chiesa out of the game at wing back and bringing on Saponara when the team needed width was bemusing change. Despite this I’m going to end on a positive: it wasn't a defeat and the Viola are now only 2 points off Milan in seventh.

Player ratings

Marco Sportiello - 7: Was a brilliant performance if your forget about his awful distribution, which can be improved.

Vincent Laurini - 6 Was brought off in the second half but produced a tidy performance.

Davideo Astori - 7: Produced a fantastic tackle in the first half to deny Milinkovic-Savic a chance to score. Was a leader at the back and had a good game.

German Pezzella - 6: Has to do better for the first Lazio goal, made it to easy for De Vrij. But won the penalty and barring the Lazio goal had a solid game.

Cristiano Biraghi - 6: Always tries to get forward but just couldn't get that final ball right today.

Milan Badelj - 6: Game seemed to pass him by today but didn't do much wrong in fairness.

Jordan Veretout - 6: Really should have set up a goal in the first half.

Marco Benassi - 6.5: Was very positive on the ball, needs to work on his shooting. Took to many shots from outside the area which were poor.

Federico Chiesa - 7: Why oh why was he was sent to play right wing back I’ll never know. It completely took him out of the game. Was Fiorentina’s best player until then.

Cyril Thereau - 6: Good comeback performane from Thereau, but like others stuggled to get that final ball/shot right.

Giovanni Simeone - 5: Really was never in the game and never looked like scoring. Could see Babacar playing next weekend.

Bench

Khouma Babacar-7: Gets the seven for scoring the penalty after he was clearly ill. If he’s healthy he should start next weekend.

Vitor Hugo- 6: Adjusted well to the three at the back and didn't do much wrong after he came on.

Ricardo Saponara- 5: Made little impact to the game. Stefano Pioli should have brought on a winger.