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Derby success boosts Lazio’s top-three charge

Lazio forward Miroslav Klose (right) scores the winning goal in stoppage time during Sunday’s derby against Roma at the Olimpico.

Lazio forward Miroslav Klose (right) scores the winning goal in stoppage time during Sunday’s derby against Roma at the Olimpico.

Pablo Osvaldo’s sixth-minute opener gave Roma a head start in Sunday’s derby. By contrast, it complicated matters for Lazio who were looking to beat their rivals for the first time in two-and-a-half years.

Since their 4-2 win in April 2009, Lazio have lost five times to their city neighbours, including a Coppa Italia tie earlier this year.

Furthermore, Lazio had suffered four defeats to Roma since Edy Reja took charge of the team in February 2010. The omens were indeed encouraging for Roma but they surrendered their 1-0 lead.

Hernanes equalised for Lazio from the penalty spot just after the break and Miroslav Klose hit the winning goal in stoppage time.

Reja could not contain his joy as he left his bench to embrace Klose. The ex-Torino and Napoli coach was subsequently dismissed by referee Paolo Tagliavento.

Following last weekend’s results, Lazio are second, level with Cagliari on 11 points, just one behind leading duo Juventus and Udinese.

Lazio can do well this season. Not only are the Biancocelesti playing well and brimming with confidence, they also have a stronger squad compared with last season. In particular, Lazio have a formidable attack with new signings Klose and Djibril Cissè.

Lazio narrowly missed out on qualification to the Champions League in May. Reja’s pre-set objective for this season is for Lazio to finish in the top three.

Reya’s team enjoyed an encouraging start as they went 2-0 up against Milan in their opening league match but the champions hit back to make it 2-2 and salvage a point.

The trend of surrendering leads continued for Lazio in their Europa League fixture against Romanian side Vaslui and in their 1-2 home defeat to unfancied Genoa on the second day. Hours after the Genoa upset, Reja handed in his resignation but it was rejected by club president Claudio Lotito.

Reja had been targeted for criticism and insults by a group of Lazio supporters, especially due to his negative record against Roma but Sunday’s win provided the experienced coach with a much-needed boost.

Lazio may have ended their Roma jinx but their biggest challenges lie ahead. They have to remain focused and consistent all season if they are to break into the top three.

The margin of error is very narrow if Lazio are to compete with the likes of Milan, Juventus, Napoli, Roma and Udinese for the top three spots.

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