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Lazio coming good for Ballotta

Veteran goalkeeper Marco Ballotta said S.S. Lazio are "learning and gaining confidence" after earning their first Group C win against Werder Bremen last night.

The UEFA Champions League's oldest performer may have made a much-publicised mistake at the weekend, but Marco Ballotta was back to his best on Tuesday night as S.S. Lazio claimed their first Group C victory, defeating Werder Bremen 2-1 in Rome.

Key figure
The 43-year-old goalkeeper took the brunt of the blame for the 1-0 home defeat against ACF Fiorentina, but was a key figure in the Matchday 4 win. "It's important for us to get that first win under our belts," he said. "We needed to create a lot of chances in front of goal and that's what we did. We converted our chances as well."

Agile veteran
Two second-half goals from striker Tommaso Rocchi gave the Italian side a 2-0 lead before Diego halved the deficit with two minutes to go. Ballotta, whose attempt to prevent a corner on Saturday backfired and led directly to Fiorentina's winner, pulled off a stunning save in the 66th minute to keep his side ahead, showing remarkable agility to turn aside a thunderbolt free-kick from Bremen defender Naldo.

'High price'
"Performances should be judged fairly," he said. "It's easy to pick out errors and then forget about the things a player does well. What happened last Saturday was an error on my part. I accepted it and have tried to get it out of my head. When a goalkeeper makes a mistake, everyone sees it, but if any other player does, then it's hardly mentioned. We goalkeepers pay a high price for our mistakes."

Learning curve
Ballotta hopes the win will help improve Lazio's fortunes in Serie A, where they have won just twice in eleven matches this season: "We had hoped to be higher in the league and the defeats at home to Udinese [Calcio] and Fiorentina really took us by surprise. Most of us have never played in the UEFA Champions League before so we have to get used to the physical and psychological effort needed to play both at the weekend and then in the week. It has not been easy but we're learning and gaining confidence."

Better belief
Next up for Lazio in Europe's top competition is a home encounter against Olympiacos CFP. "We must go into that game playing with the same high tempo to our game as we had tonight," added Ballotta. "We've proved by getting results against top sides that we're a strong team too. We need belief to do better." Three points behind Real Madrid CF and equal with Olympiacos in second, Ballotta says he would settle for the runners-up spot now and a berth in the knockout phase. "I'd take second place in the group without asking twice," he smiled. "Second looks beautiful to me."