Serie A - Zarate gives Lazio win at Chievo
Mauro Zarate atoned for a horror miss as his second-half goal gave Lazio a scrappy 1-0 win at Chievo, moving the Biancocelesti into the Serie A top four at Milan’s expense.
Chievo, who would have gone top had they won, were largely disappointing as their one-dimensional approach rarely threatened the more technically astute Lazio, whose goal came on 69 minutes when the Argentine striker slid a cool low finish past Stefano Sorrentino.
Former Birmingham City striker Zarate had earlier put over from a few yards with the goal at his mercy in a match his team should have put to bed long before his winner.
It was hard to see why Chievo are doing so well this season as they effectively played route one football in a first half where they created little and tested Fernando Muslera only with aimless long balls, strike duo Sergio Pellissier and Davide Moscardelli largely isolated by poor and usually high service.
Lazio, meanwhile, dominated possession and should have been ahead at half time but for poor luck and one dreadful miss.
Sorrentino earned his coin in the Flying Donkeys’ goal, blocking bravely at Zarate’s freet when Stefano Mauri sent him clean through, with Mauri heading wide just after the quarter-hour mark after superb wide play by Stephan Liechtsteiner.
On the half hour Brazilian midfielder Hernanes sent a low drive fizzing just wide with Sorrentino beaten, while three minutes later livewire Argentine Zarate thundered a long-range shot off the bar.
The biggest chance came soon after that as Zarate, totally unmarked at the far post and with the goal at his mercy, somehow put over with his preferred left foot after a wicked cross from Sergio Floccari.
It was one of the misses of the season and somehow the game was goalless at the break.
An early second-half injury to Pellissier saw Pablo Granoche enter the fray for Chievo but it had little initial impact in a tentative third quarter.
Indeed the first clear chance of the half fell in the 67th minute, as Hernanes smashed an outrageous free-kick from the right wing that Sorrentino tipped over.
Two minutes later Lazio took a lead that they deserved on the balance of play as, on the counter attack, Zarate brought down a long ball from Mauri and slid a superb finish across Sorrentino into the bottom left.
From that point on Chievo launched an incessant assault on Lazio’s goal, but it was mostly huff and puff without really giving Muslera anything to do.
Lazio went into Catenaccio mode, taking Zarate off and putting everyone behind the ball as they broke up the play with niggly fouls and the occasional flouncy argument.
If anyone was going to score it was the visitors, with Hernanes mis-kicking from eight yards with Mauri free to his left.
The Biancocelesti’s stalling efforts were rewarded with five minutes added time, during which there were bookings for Lazio time-wasting and frustrated Chievo fouling.
Lazio held on with something to spare, the win putting them second above Chievo after Brescia lost at Bari and Catania were held by Bologna.