European Action Recap: Zaniolo Saves Roma as Lazio Are Relegated

It was a bittersweet night for the Italian clubs playing in Europa League and Conference League on Thursday. Half of Rome could rejoice as Roma booked their ticket to the Europa League Playoffs, while the other half was left scorned at Lazio’s unexpected failure to qualify.

The Biancocelesti were relegated to the knockout stage of Conference League, where they will play alongside Fiorentina, who had already secured their qualification one week ago.

Here is what happened in the European night more in details:

Roma vs Ludogorets 3-1

Roma had no choice but winning their final showdown with Ludogorets to advance to the next stage. But the Giallorossi put together a horrible first half and saw the Bulgarian side take the lead with Brazilian forward Rick.

Then, José Mourinho had the intuition of sending in Nicoló Zaniolo and the Azzurri starlet basically turned the game upside down, giving Roma a decisive edge.

Zaniolo forced Ludogorets to concede two penalties that were both converted by captain Lorenzo Pellegrini, then personally scored Roma’s third with an irresistible solo action. Nonato should have made it 2-2 before Zaniolo’s goal but his winning effort was disallowed on grounds of a foul in the build-up.

Roma could breathe a sigh of relief, even though facing a Champions League relegated team in the Playoff round will not be a walk in the park.

Feyenoord vs Lazio 1-0

A disappointing night for Lazio, who fell in Rotterdam to a Santiago Gimenez lone goal and were passed in the group table by both the Dutch side and Midtjylland.

Lazio wasted too many chances, especially with Felipe Anderson, and were punished in the second half by the same striker who had scored twice at the Stadio Olimpico in the reverse fixture.

As Midtjyilland beat Sturm Graz in the other match of Group F, the pool ended with all four team even on points at eight – an unprecedented occurrence in European cups. And so, it was the goal difference to determine which club would advance to the next stage, favoring the Danish side ahead of Lazio.

Maurizio Sarri’s Biancocelesti were thus relegated to the Conference League. After last weekend’s heavy setback at the hands of Salernitana, this was another poor showing for the capital city club.

RFS Riga vs Fiorentina 0-3

Fiorentina were already qualified to the next round of the Conference League but still harbored some hopes of ending top of their Group – thus avoiding the Playoff round. The Viola did their job as they easily disposed of the modest Latvian side but so did Basaksehir who retained the top spot in Group A.

The Turkish side ended even on points with Fiorentina at 13 but qualified as first as they had a better goal difference in heads-to-heads.

Fiorentina were thus left with the bitter regret of having conceded one point to RFS in the reverse fixture at the Artemio Franchi as winning that game would have meant advancing to the next stage as first.