A 71st minute strike by Senad Lulic was all Lazio needed to secure a 1-0 over AS Roma in the Coppa Italia version of the Derby della Capitale.
It was a brutal, hard-fought match full of biting tackles, plenty of chances on goal and 8 yellow cards (five in the first half). The game winner came with 19 minutes to play when Antonio Candreva found Stefano Mauri who gave it back to the midfielder sprinting down the right side of the pitch.
Candreva tore into the box and ripped a bending cross along the 6 yard box that Roma goal-keeper Bogdan Lobont managed to get a finger on but it wasn’t enough as Lulic had timed his back-post run to perfection.
Two minutes later Roma looked like they might have their leveler through the ageless Francisco Totti, who’s curling free-kick caused confusion in the box and bounced off the ground forcing Lazio goal-keeper Federico Marchetti into a fine save.
Lulic got things started in the 3rd minute when his strike from 22 yards forced Lobont to parry the shot. Lazio striker Miroslav Klose was quick to the rebound but couldn’t convert before being closed down by the Roma defense.
After Lazio looked to have firm control over the match, things swung Roma’s way as Totti unleashed from 25 yards out but Marchetti saved easily. In the 10th minute, American Michael Bradley nearly broke the deadlock as Marquinhos’ cross from the left side found Eric Lamela, who dumped off to the unrushing Bradley but his far-post shot went just wide.
Seven minutes later and Lamela tried his luck from 23 yards out but Marchetti was up to the task. In the 34th minute, Klose was back at it with a ladder-climbing header that Lobont did well to parry before his defense cleared.
Stuck in a 0-0 deadlock going in to half-time the fierce-paced match slowed before the 67th minute when Lulic delivered a 40 yard cross to Mauri at the corner of the 6, who fired the ball back across goal but the out-stretching Klose couldn’t get his foot on it.
Four minutes later, Lulic fired home from close range to give Lazio the lead and the ensuing free-kick by Totti’s was well saved by Marchetti to hand the Biancocelesti its sixth Coppa Italia title.
Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.
[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]
Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.
The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.
Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.
Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.
Like the move for Newcastle?
Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.
[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]
Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.
The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.
From The Players’ Tribune:
There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.
Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.
West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.
Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.
[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]
Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.
Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.
Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.
“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”
In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.
[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]
There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.
Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.