It proved a night of frustration and disappointment for S.S. Lazio as they were eliminated after sharing the spoils with Egaleo FC at the Rizoupoli stadium in Athens.
The home side had only a slim chance of progressing but denied their illustrious visitors in a spirited display. After Egaleo had taken an early lead through Ioannis Chloros, Roberto Muzzi struck twice to give Lazio hope, but Anastasios Agritis scored the crucial second-half equaliser.
Lazio coach Domenico Caso made four changes to the side that lost 3-2 at home against Cagliari Calcio on Sunday, bringing in Ousmane Dabo, Christian Manfredini, Anthony Šeric and Paolo Di Canio. Goran Pandev, who scored in that defeat, was left on the bench after struggling in the build-up with an ankle injury.
The game started at a brisk pace, and the home side soon threatened as a deep cross by Ioannis Skopelitis was taken one-handed by Angelo Peruzzi with Emmanouel Psomas lurking at the far post. Georgios Fotakis was showing some nice touches in midfield as Stéphane Demol's side made the early running.
With only nine minutes played, Egaleo took the lead - scoring their first goal in this group. A diagonal ball from Ioannis Christou was flicked on by Thomas Makris to Chloros, who chested down and shot beyond Peruzzi on the swivel. It was an excellent goal and it filled the Greek side with confidence. Makris could have scored a second within a minute, but mis-hit his close-range effort.
The lead lasted just four minutes as Lazio equalised from a well-worked free-kick. Di Canio squared the ball to Muzzi and he struck a low outswinging shot through a crowd of Egaleo defenders and beyond a wrong-footed Srdan Kljajevic.
Suddenly the visitors were in control and Egaleo's defending looked decidedly fragile as they struggled to clear a succession of deep Lazio crosses. On 36 minutes Di Canio chipped an excellent through-ball for Muzzi to latch on to - the burly striker scored convincingly. The Rome side were dominating.
Di Canio skill
Lazio were happy to play a patient game after the break, retaining possession and frustrating their hosts. Di Canio almost added a third after juggling the ball and volleying left-footed but Kljajevic saved smartly.
Then, against the run of play, Egaleo equalised. Makris was again involved, sending a clever pass into the path of half-time substitute Anastasios Agritis, who retained his composure to lob the ball deftly over Peruzzi and into the net. Makris nearly gave the home team the lead moments later after Peruzzi spilled the ball, but could only scoop over.
Lazio pressed desperately for the goal that would keep their hopes alive, Muzzi narrowly failing to hook the ball in for his hat-trick. The game became increasingly scrappy as the final whistle approached. A great reaction save from Kljajevic prevented substitute Pandev from nodding in, and he remained resolute in the face of some late pressure from the visitors.
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