At the Olimpico Stadium in Rome, Lazio announced their return to the Champions League for the first time in three years by hosting Atletico Madrid. The visitors thought they won the match thanks to Pablo Barrios’ first-half opener. But in a surreal twist of fate, goalkeeper Ivan Provedel produced a last-second equalizer that secured a valuable point for the Aquile.
Maurizio Sarri maintained a 4-3-3 formation spearheaded by Ciro Immobile. Mattia Zaccagni and Felipe Anderson joined him on the wings, while Matias Vecino took the Regista role. Daichi Kamada and Luis Alberto completed the midfield trio.
On the other hand, Biancocelesti hero Diego Simeone adopted a 3-5-2 lineup led by Alvaro Morata and Antoine Griezmann. Nahuel Molina and Samuel Lino operated as wingbacks, while Axel Witsel served as a sweeper at the heart of the backline.
Positive Start for Lazio
After the kickoff, both sides traded jabs, but the home side appeared to be the most dangerous. Luis Alberto in particular was threatening, but his volley whistled past the post.
For his part, Zaccagni tested Jan Oblak with an ambitious long-range freekick that was palmed away by the Slovenian.
Atletico Stun The Eagles
But against the run of play, Atletico Madrid shocked Lazio by taking an unexpected lead in the 29th minute. Molina set up Pablo Barrios who tried his luck long from a long distance.
The Spaniard’s shot didn’t seem to be particularly threatening at first, but Kamada put his foot into it, and his touch was enough to wrongfoot the hapless Ivan Provedel who could only watch the ball settle into his net.
The Colchoneros went to halftime with a fortunate, yet, precious lead.
Thrilling Second Half
After the break, the Spanish capital club became the better side and had the bulk of the chances, as Sarri’s man appeared to be struggling to maintain pace with their visitors.
Nonetheless, a blunder at the back gifted Immobile a golden chance to equalize. But with the Atletico Madrid goal at his mercy, the Lazio captain’s shot was too weak to trouble Oblak.
On the opposite end of the field, Griezmann returned the favor by sending a wayward shot from close range.
Morata then found himself with just enough space and time to pull the trigger on the Italian’s hopes, but his shot was deflected by Alessio Romagnoli into the outer post.
For his part, Ivan Provedel had to produce two shocking saves to keep the Biancocelesti in the match.
However, Sarri’s substitutes made little impact on the match, although Danilo Cataldi’s long-range shot almost hit the target in added time.
Yet, an unexpected hero rose to the occasion at the very last minute. Provedel ventured forward for a Lazio corner, and he astonishingly managed to get on the end of a cross from Luis Alberto and head home an equalizer that will go down in history for its rarity.
Positive Start for Lazio
Although they didn’t get the win, Lazio started their Champions League campaign in thrilling fashion and earned a point against a more experienced Atletico Madrid side, while the circumstances that accompanied the equalizer should provide the struggling Serie A side with a significant morale boost.
Lazio (4-3-3): Provedel; Marusic, Patric, Romagnoli, Pellegrini (Lazzari); Kamada (Guendouzi), Vecino (Cataldi), Luis Alberto; Felipe Anderson (Isaksen), Immobile, Zaccagni (Pedro)
Atletico Madrid (3-5-2): Oblak; Savic, Witsel (Correa), Hermoso; Lino (Riquelme), Saul, Barrios (Gimenez), Llorente, Molina; Griezmann, Morata.
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