S.S. Lazio produced a battling second-half display as they fought back from a goal down to beat SK Sturm Graz 3-1 at the Arnold Schwarzenegger stadium in their UEFA Cup third round first-leg tie.
Lazio coach Roberto Mancini made no fewer than nine changes from the team that beat Modena FC 4-0 on Sunday, retaining only goalkeeper Angelo Peruzzi and defender Paolo Negro. Understandably Lazio struggled to find their rhythm as Sturm pressed forward, eager to make the most of home advantage.
The Italian side looked shaky in the early stages, and only the alertness of Peruzzi prevented Imre Szabics giving Sturm the lead after nine minutes. Sturm continued to have the better of things, and they got their reward on the stroke of half-time as Szabics set up Ghanaian striker Charles Amoah to fire the ball past a helpless Peruzzi.
Lazio got straight back into it after the break, though, as Fabio Liverani picked out an unmarked Enrico Chiesa with a fine pass, and the charismatic striker made no mistake.
Chiesa turned provider ten minutes later, laying on a beautiful ball for Simone Inzaghi to give Lazio the lead from a tight angle. And three minutes from time it got even better for Lazio as Inzaghi made the most of a slip by goalkeeper Heinz Weber to add his second of the night.
Lazio almost there
With three away goals, the second leg at the Stadio Olimpico should be little more than a formality for Lazio, as their impressive season shows no signs of coming off the rails.