Lazio Scrapes Into Quarterfinals After Late WinnerMilan, Jan 11: Lazio survived a scare to scrape through to the Italian Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday by winning 3-2 from Hernanes' stoppage-time winner after second-division club Verona had come back from two goals down.Brazilian
Milan, Jan 11: Lazio survived a scare to scrape through to the Italian Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday by winning 3-2 from Hernanes' stoppage-time winner after second-division club Verona had come back from two goals down.
Brazilian defender Andre Dias broke the deadlock a minute before halftime and Tommaso Rocchi scored in the 57th minute to give Lazio a seemingly unassailable lead.
However, Verona stunned the Stadio Olimpico crowd by leveling through Emanuele Berrettoni and Marco D'Alessandro.
The game was heading for extra time before Hernanes pounced to ensure Lazio will play either AC Milan or Novara, who meet next week.
"We believed we could do it," Verona coach Andrea Mandorlini said. "It could have been another game in extra time. We were a bit scared in the first half. The Olimpico is a big stadium, a lot of players were shaking a bit. But we got into the game in the second half.
"But I hope this is good proof that we can compete in Serie A."
Serie A stalwart Lazio had been expected to make light work of Verona, which was only promoted to Serie B in last season's playoffs. However, Lazio lost 4-0 at the weekend to Siena and Verona is flying high in second place in Serie B.
"It's a victory that we wanted and now we can be calmer. Otherwise it could have started more protests," Lazio coach Edoardo Reja said. "There was a part in the first half where we played well, but I don't know what happened after Rocchi's goal.
"You shouldn't leave such space when you're 2-0 up. They had a couple of opportunities and they punished us. If Hernanes hadn't got that free kick it would have been difficult to score."
Despite Verona's weakness on paper, Reja fielded a full-strength side with only top scorer Miroslav Klose rested. The German international was a substitute for the match.
Verona almost caused a shock after only 30 seconds, with Lazio goalkeeper Albano Bizzarri pulling off a great save to keep out Sasa Bjelanovic's header.
Lazio had to wait until the 16th minute for its first sight of goal but Djibril Cisse headed over the bar.
The topflight side didn't even go close to scoring until Giuseppe Sculli's shot flew narrowly wide eight minutes from the break.
That seemed to give Lazio confidence as it then had its best period of the game and took the lead in the 44th minute, when Dias fired home Hernanes' corner at the far post.
Cisse had two good chances in the opening minutes of the second half but his first effort was saved by goalkeeper Rafael before sending another shot narrowly wide.
However, Lazio doubled its lead shortly before the hour mark when Rocchi raced into the area and his fierce shot was deflected past Rafael by Giuseppe Pugliese.
The Verona defender atoned for his error four minutes later, racing down the left flank before crossing for Berrettoni to head Verona back into the game.
Klose came off the bench and almost immediately restored Lazio's lead, but his snap shot from outside the area was well saved by Rafael.
Verona equalized in the 74th minute when Berrettoni sent a through ball to D'Alessandro, who lashed it under Bizzarri and into the back of the net.
Klose almost won the game for Lazio eight minutes from time but his powerful header was just wide of the post.
Lazio sealed its place in the next round when Hernanes lashed in a free kick in the first minute of stoppage time.