S.S. Lazio live to fight another day in Group E of the UEFA Cup after second-half goals from Paolo Di Canio and Simone Inzaghi brought the Rome club back from two goals down in a fiercely contested match against FK Partizan.
A pair of early goals from 20-year-old Cameroonian forward Pierre Boya stunned the home side, and Partizan seemed on course for a second straight Group E win when Ivica Kralj saved Inzaghi's penalty in the final play of the first half. But Lazio regrouped at the interval and Di Canio and Inzaghi brought a half-empty Stadio Olimpico to life with the goals that crowned the Serie A side's spirited revival.
Lazio's problems began almost from the first whistle, Boya heading over after good work from Dragan Ciric down the Lazio right. In a blistering first 45 minutes, the young forward proved too strong for Fernando Couto and Paolo Negro at the heart of the Lazio defence. On six minutes, Ivan Tomic's through-ball split Lazio's struggling rearguard, and Boya stabbed the ball past the advancing Matteo Sereni to put Partizan in front.
On 21 minutes, Inzaghi thought he had brought Lazio level when he turned in Emanuele Filippini's cross, but the forward was ruled offside. That decision seemed to knock Lazio off their stride, and Partizan controlled the rest of the period, doubling their lead on 25 minutes. Boya headed down Simon Vukcevic's cross from the right only for Sereni to make a wonderful point-blank save. The goalkeeper appeared to have control of the ball, but Boya raced in to kick it over the line, provoking a furious response from the Lazio players.
The tackles flew in from both sides as Lazio struggled to keep their cool, but they seemed to have worked their way back into the match in the final minute of the half when Nenad Djordjevic brought down Inzaghi in the box. The striker took the penalty himself but shot too centrally and Kralj got down to make the save.
Lazio were knocked out of the Coppa Italia at the weekend and Domenico Caso's side looked to be nearing elimination from the UEFA Cup as well. But from seeming bereft of ideas and spirit in the first half, Lazio emerged rejuvenated after the break. César replaced Tommaso Rocchi on the left and the Brazilian winger brought with him an imagination Lazio had been lacking.
Di Canio scores
Seven minutes after the break, Anthony Šeric crossed from the left, just over Inzaghi's head but perfectly placed for Di Canio to clip it past Kralj. Filippini and Negro then both missed good chances before Inzaghi swept in César's low ball with 17 minutes to play to earn the draw. Lazio must now defeat Egaleo FC in Greece in their final tie on 2 December to keep alive their slim chances of qualifying, while Partizan, second with four points from two matches, are at home to Villarreal CF.