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Nov 7, 2013 at 8.05pm UK
Lazio
2-1
Apollon LimassolApollon Limassol
Floccari (14', 37')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Papoulis (39')
/esi/1339/6_G_1_33636/index.html?art_id=116445&game_id=33636&sport_id=1&ESI

Live Commentary: Lazio 2-1 Apollon Limassol - as it happened

:Headline: Live Commentary: Lazio 2-1 Apollon Limassol - as it happened:
Sports Mole's text coverage of Lazio's hard-fought Europa League victory over plucky Cypriot side Apollon Limassol.
By , Reporter | 6y

Lazio hosted Apollon Limassol in a Europa League Group J clash tonight, desperate to improve on a frustrating 0-0 draw in Cyprus two weeks ago.

The Aquile made wholesale changes but still managed to build a commanding lead early on, thanks to a clinical brace from stand-in striker Sergio Floccari.

Apollon soon responded though and reduced the deficit before the break through Fotios Papoulis, with Lazio holding firm after a quiet second half to secure all three points.

Look back on a hard-fought win for Vladimir Petkovic's men with Sports Mole's minute-by-minute text commentary below.

Evening Europa League followers. Thanks for sticking with Sports Mole as our attention turns to the Stadio Olimpico and Lazio's latest test of a tricky campaign, hosting Cypriot side Apollon Limassol.
There is just time to bring you news of the starting XIs, with a surprise debut in goal for Lazio's Albanian stopper Ertrit Berisha. A full look at both teams to follow in just a few moments.
LAZIO: Berisha; Konko, Cana, Ciani, Cavanda; Onazi, Hernanes, Keita; Candreva, Floccari, Ederson

APOLLON: Bruno Vale; Stylianou, Merkis, Karipidis, Vasiliou; Sangoy, Hamdani, Gullon, Papoulis; Meriem, Roberto

Lazio have named a strong side in a bid to avoid embarrassment tonight, thanks in part surely to their struggles in a 0-0 draw with the Cypriot side two weeks ago. Hernanes is back in the fold after missing out last weekend, while Sergio Floccari leads the line supported by Antonio Candreva and Ederson.
We are underway in the Eternal City, as Lazio get us underway looking to open up a four-point gap on their opponents in the race for safe passage from Group J. The crowd is sparse to say the least at the Olimpico, but still in strong voice.
Ederson smashes a speculative drive well wide with the first effort on goal, wasting no time in letting fly from a full 40 yards. Apollon have set up in a 4-5-1 formation as they bid to become the first Cypriot side to win against Italian opposition at home or away.
Keita uses his pace to combine with an overlapping Cavanda as Lazio drive forward, but a strong covering challenge helps Apollon keeper Vale come and claim quickly.
Candreva lifts a dangerous free kick into the area after Sangoy brought down Keita out wide, with the Apollon winger perhaps a tad fortunate to escape without a caution. The following cross is headed away without any hassle though, as the visitors cleat their lines momentarily.
Keita switches wings and creates space with a quick stepover, but after cutting inside nearly can only drag his shot past the near post. Encouraging early signs for Lazio, as Berisha then gets his first touch to punch clear at the other end.
GOAL! Lazio 1-0 Apollon (Floccari)
A scrappy opener but Floccari will care little as Lazio break the deadlock. Keita's trickery created the chance, with Apollon failing to clear their lines as the striker pounced to flick just inside the far post. Advantage to the hosts, after being frustrated for so long in Cyprus two weeks ago.
Sangoy just drifts off Ciani and hammers into the side-netting from a tight angle, as Apollon threaten for the first time tonight following a shaky start. That effort has helped draw the referee's attention to a hole in the net just under the crossbar, forcing a break in play.
The net is fixed but likely to remain untested for now as Keita picks up more space out wide. Apollon have a problem defending on their right-hand side early on, but manage to clear as Hamdani is brought down by Ederson on the halfway line.
Apollon look to have finally settled somewhat, attempting to play out from the back. Hernanes tests that resistance with a drive from distance, neglecting to ignore Keita out wide as his powerful strike is parried by Vale.
Lazio enjoy a sustained spell of possession as Ciani picks out Keita with a long diagonal pass. He eventually helps work the ball to Floccari with a flick inside, but the forward is only able to smash a low drive just beyond the far post. Very close to a second goal there for the hosts.
Cavanda wins a corner kick with another run down the line from full-back, giving Candrvea the chance to deliver a cross. His effort is headed on at the near post by Keita, but Apollon have numbers spare in the six-yard box and manage to clear.
Candreva combines with Floccari in a neat exchange just outside the area, using pace to find the striker with a powerful pass. Floccari takes the chance to let fly once more but fails to find the target, flashing wide with a low effort.
GOAL! Lazio 2-0 Apollon (Floccari)
Floccari has his second and Lazio are two to the good. The forward seals an early brace with a fine header measured into the corner. Apollon have done little wrong but find themselves facing an uphill task to respond now.
GOAL! Lazio 2-1 Apollon (Papoulis)
Almost instantly Apollon have a lifeline, reducing the deficit as Papoulis latches onto a pass from Sangoy before firing into the far corner. Petkovic will be furious with his defenders there, switching off and quickly turning what looked like a routine second half into a competitive match once again.
Candreva smashes a free kick over from 35 yards as a frantic end to the first half continues. The playmaker got plenty of power behind his effort but could not direct it on target, much to the relief of Bruno Vale as he dives in mid-air.
HALF-TIME Lazio 2-1 Apollon
Lazio will wonder how they only lead by a goal after controlling the large majority of that first period, only to see Apollon catch them cold and reduce the deficit just two minutes after Floccari's second. Still work to do here for the hosts, as they look to close out a morale-boosting victory.
Apollon have been largely reduced to defending from deep in the first half, thanks mainly to the pace and power of Keita and Candreva down the flanks. Floccari has been the real danger man though, scoring twice and taking his second with real authority.
Lazio have plenty of creative flair on the park but you can sense that they are not playing with complete confidence, perhaps due to an indifferent run of league form. Apollon have shown some neat moments on occasion, with Sangoy in particular looking dangerous out wide.
BENCH WATCH! Lazio do have plenty of options waiting in reserve if they want to kill this match off, with Klose and Perea options Petkovic would probably prefer not to use if at all possible given their stuttering start in Serie A.
Lazio get the second half underway and almost immediately win a free kick, after Gullon's cynical late lunge on Candreva. Hernanes takes the following free kick and forced Bruno Vale to parry back towards danger, with Keita anticipating the rebound only to miss the ball with a kick at fresh air. That really should have been 3-1!
CHANCE! This time its Floccari's turn to miss a sitter and Lazio should be out of sight by now. The forward raced onto Keita's cutback after Apollon had lost possession in their own half, but leaning back could only send his volley over the top from eight yards. Will the Aquile rue these missed chances?
YELLOW CARD! As Meriem sends a wayward cross over the top there is just time to report that Gullon did in fact receive a caution for that challenge on Candreva moments into the second half. Apollon just need to ride out this wave of pressure and hope to take advantage of late nerves.
Apollon are just starting to find their feet after a difficult start to the second half, with Ciani doing enough to stop Roberto collecting a long ball over the top. The Spaniard has looked isolated all night, but still has time to have an impact on proceedings.
Candreva has a shot blocked down as he wastes the chance to slip Floccari into space to his left. Lazio have gone off the boil a touch but still look comfortable defensively, with options on the bench to keep things fresh.
YELLOW CARD! Hernanes and Konko combine in the final third, but are just unable to play Ederson into space on the left flank. In the next passage of play Ciani clips Sangoy with a late challenge that had studs showing, giving the referee no choice but to issue a caution.
Apollon's brightest moment since scoring as Sangoy flicks a header wide of the near post, after finding the space to make contact inside the penalty area. Lazio's narrow lead needs protecting now, which could lead to Petkovic calling on defensive reinforcements.
SUBSTITUTION: Lazio make their first change and it should result in a defensive reshuffle, as Novaretti replaces Konko. Just a sign that Petkovic is growing concerned with his side's failure to put this game beyond doubt perhaps?
SAVE! Apollon go within a whisker of equalising as Novaretti's first involvement is almost a calamity. The Argentine is caught out by a long diagonal pass as Papoulis controls and hits towards the top corner from close range, but Berisha reads the danger and turns over the crossbar with a smart stop. A nervy moment for the Serie A giants.
GROUP J UPDATE! We have news of a goal from tonight's other game in the group, which sees Trabzonspor breaking the deadlock to lead Legia Warsaw. A win for the Turkish side would see them stay top of Group J regardless of what happens here tonight, leaving Lazio just behind in second as things stand.
SUBSTITUTION: Another fairly conservative change from Lazio, with Ederson replaced by more a midfield anchor in the experienced Ledesma. He should provide a defensive shield to a three-man backline heading towards the closing stages.
YELLOW CARD! Ciani clears Sangoy's cross at full stretch as Lazio quickly look to break in numbers. Merkis decides to snuff out any chance of a counter and quickly pushes Floccari to the floor, picking up a fully deserved caution for his troubles.
SUBSTITUTION: Another late Lazio change as Colombian striker Perea takes the place of Keita, who has definitely tired in the last 10 minutes after a bright beginning.
Cavanda offers more willing running down the flank for Lazio, but Lazio then lose possession after Onazi and Ledesma both wait for the other to take charge in central midfield. When play stops Apollon make their first change of the night belatedly, allowing Konstantinou to replace Gullon.
Novaretti goes to ground and is rather worryingly put in a neck brace, although the defender soon takes it off as he is placed on a stretcher. The defender fell heavily but is soon back on his feet on the touchline, making sure Lazio don't have to face the final few minutes a man light.
Novaretti's injury stoppage helps to contribute to five minutes of added time, which begins with Candreva wasting time after being flagged for offside. Can Apollon force one final chance to salvage a famous draw?
A late change for Apollon as the goalscorer Papoulis is swapped for Canadian Haber. The visitors send men forward but are penalised for a soft foul, as Sangoy catches Candreva in his eagerness to retrieve possession.
Merkis drifts offside and that might be that for Apollon, as Candreva draws another foul inside his own half. A difficult night is nearly over for Lazio, with three points close to being secured.
FULL-TIME Lazio 2-1 Apollon
Lazio get over the line and now look firm favourites to qualify from Group J, although in far from convincing fashion. Floccari's brace was enough, but there is still plenty of work to do for Petkovic to ride out a stormy spell in the Eternal City.
That will just about do it for Sports Mole's live text coverage from the Stadio Olimpico, but be sure to stick with the main page tonight for comprehensive news and reaction from a busy week of European football. Thanks for your company.

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2Manchester CityMan City23152662263647
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5Manchester UnitedMan Utd2297636251134
6Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd238872422232
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13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2376102630-427
14Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2275102134-1326
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16West Ham UnitedWest Ham2265112634-823
17Watford2358102034-1423
18Aston Villa2363142844-1621
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