Nikci equaliser earns Zürich draw with Lazio
Thursday, October 20, 2011
FC Zürich 1-1 S.S. Lazio
Zürich and Lazio are still seeking their first wins in Group D after the Swiss side's Adrian Nikci struck within 60 seconds of Giuseppe Sculli's opener.
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FC Zürich's Adrian Nikci fired in seconds after Giuseppe Sculli had given S.S. Lazio a first-half lead as the UEFA Europa League Group D strugglers could not be separated in Switzerland.
Sculli turned in a Hernanes corner from close range to open the scoring, but within moments of the breakthrough Nikci drove a powerful effort into the top corner. That was where the scoring ended too, with Ludovic Magnin's free-kick forcing Federico Marchetti to save well and Andrea Guatelli denying Hernanes, Djibril Cissé and substitute Libor Kozák as the game ended level.
With both teams finding European form hard to come by, earning a point apiece from their opening two group fixtures, there was a tentative start to the evening, with Yassine Chikhaoui's scuffed long-range shot for Zürich the only attempt early on. But a frantic minute's worth of action soon made up for the quiet 21 that had preceded it.
Sculli benefitted when a corner evaded Modibo Diakitè and Magnin and fell at his feet five metres out, allowing the 30-year-old to power in his second group stage goal of the season. The home side responded immediately, however, as French forward Alexandre Alphonse laid the ball to the right and Nikci met it with a stinging drive which arrowed into the top left corner.
Magnin's forceful free-kick almost sneaked past the Lazio keeper, but it was the visitors who took control after the break. Hernanes' attempt from the edge of the box was saved by the athletic Guatelli, and the Zürich shot-stopper also kept out Cissé's sharp volley and Kozák's late close-range header.
Alphonse bustled his way through the middle but side-footed wide as neither team could prevent a draw, which leaves them locked together with FC Vaslui on two points.