Caicedo Saves Lazio Again as Biancocelesti Tie to Zenit

Lazio came back to play in Russia for the first time since 21 years as they faced Zenit St. Petersburg in their third Champions League group stage effort. It ended in a 1-1 stalemate as Felipe Caicedo canceled Aleksandr Erokhin’s lead.

All in all, it’s one additional point conquered by Simone Inzaghi’s band who were still facing an emergency situation due the multiple COVID-induced absences. Just like one week ago in Bruges, the Biancocelesti made the best out of the situation to keep the chances of advancing to the knockout stage unchanged.

Simone Inzaghi had his lines decimated by the coronavirus and also had to face the curious case of “comeback positives” Thomas Strakosha, Lucas Leiva, and Ciro Immobile. All the three players tested negative for COVID-19 and were regularly deployed by Inzaghi in Saturday’s win in Torino but an additional UEFA test reported them once again infected with the virus.

In absence of Immobile, Inzaghi chose Vedat Muriqi rather than Felipe Caicedo as Joaquin Correa’s attacking partner.

Zenit could benefit of the support of their home fans who were allowed into the Gazprom Arena – a quite unusual scenario in the days of COVID-19. To grab the first points in their Champions League campaign after back-to-back losses, the Russians were mostly counting on gigantic striker Artem Dzyuba as a lone striker in coach Sergei Semak’s  4-1-4-1 formation.

The Russian giant was indeed the one to fear as he played a big part in Zenit’s opener, which came after some sleep-inducing initial 30 minutes of the game. Dzyuba’s flank play was beautifully finalized by Aleksandr Erokhin who volleyed the ball home, with the whole Lazio defensive line appearing slow to react in the occasion.

Both Zenit and Lazio had spent the initial part of the game studying each other and turning the match into an authentic boredom. Zenit’s goal finally seemed to set the match on fire as Lazio now had to push for an equalizer but the first 45 minutes ended with nothing more worth of mention.

Ten minutes into the second half, Inzaghi replaced Vedat Muriqi with Felipe Caicedo after the Kosovar produced an encouraging performance – though still failing to record his first goal for Lazio. The Ecuadorian turned to be the savior of the day once again as, in the 82nd minute, he emulated Eorkhim by volleying home a perfect service from Francesco Acerbi to draw level for the Biancocelesti.

Caicedo and Correa had already come close to score for Lazio earlier in the game while the Russians had made themselves dangerous with Erokhin again – who was brilliantly stopped by Wesley Hoedt – and with substitute Andrei Mostovoy – who missed the target by just a few inches.

Mostovoy gave another scare to Inzaghi during stoppage time as he found the back of the net taking advantage of a Sergej Milinkovic Savic mistake but the goal was disallowed on grounds of Dzyuba’s offside position.

At full time it was 1-1 and one point each, an outcome that will make Lazio and Simone Inzaghi much happier than his Zenit counterpart Sergei Semak.



November 4, 2020 – Champions League 2020-21 Group Stage

SCORERS: 32′ Erokhin (Z), 82′ Caicedo (L)

ZENIT ST. PETERSBURG (4-1-4-1): Kerzhakov; Karavaev, Lovren, Rakitskiy, Douglas Santos; Barrios; Erokhin (61′ Mostovoy), Ozdoev (90′ Sutormin), Zhirkov (79′ Krugovoy), Kuzyaev (91′ Wendel); Dzyuba (Lunev, Prokhin, Shamkin, Vasyutin) Coach: Semak
LAZIO (3-5-2): Reina; Hoedt, Acerbi, Patric; Marusic, Akpa Akpro, Parolo 52′ Cataldi), Milinkovic-Savic, Fares (59′ Pereira); Correa (85′ Luiz Felipe), Muriqi (59′ Caicedo) (Alia, Furlanetto, Armini, Bertini, Czyz, Franco, Pica) Coach: S. Inzaghi

REFEREE: Soares (Portugal)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Kuzyaev, Barrios, Lovren, Krugovoy (Z), Akpa Apro, Milinkovic-Savic, Caicedo, Reina (L); Extra Time: 1st Half 0′, 2nd Half 4′