S.S. Lazio's hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Europa League knockout stage received a healthy boost with their first victory in Group D against FC Zürich.
Cristian Brocchi's strike midway through an improved second-half performance made the difference for Edoardo Reja's side, who rarely troubled their Swiss opponents before the interval.
The match had got off to a frenetic start with the visitors threatening as early as the first minute. Admir Mehmedi bustled past Ricardo Rodriguez and cut the ball back from the byline for Yassine Chikhaoui, whose shot was parried by Federico Marchetti. Lazio then twice went close themselves as Giuseppe Sculli headed Luciano Zauri's cross over and Lorik Cana's daisy-cutter forced a save from Johnny Leoni.
But if both sides were in need of a first win in the section, they failed to show it in a tepid opening period. Though Miroslav Klose had a snap shot blocked on the half-hour mark, and Senad Lulić's powerful drive was repelled by Leoni two minutes later, it was Zürich who looked most confident in possession, with Chikhaoui and Silvan Aegerter establishing a foothold in midfield.
However, Urs Fischer's men struggled to find the cutting edge that a totally transformed Lazio side manifested after the break. Half-time substitute Djibril Cissé set the tone with an early shot across goal, Tommaso Rocchi then volleyed over at the near post following another fine run and cross by the lively Zauri, and Cristian Ledesma's 58th-minute effort also fizzed wide.
The goal that had been threatening to come duly arrived on 62 minutes, when Brocchi, another substitute, struck in style. The former AC Milan midfielder picked up a neat back-heel by Cissé before letting fly with a shot from 25 metres that looped over Leoni.
Lazio continued to pouring forward at will and Cissé might have twice doubled the lead with thumping efforts that soared over. As it happened, his team had already done enough to look forward to a potentially decisive trip to FC Vaslui on 1 December.
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