Saturday, 8 August 2009

[Supercoppa] Lazio celebrate at the Bird's Nest

Inter 1-2 LazioLazio lifted the Supercoppa Italiana with a surprise 2-1 win over Serie A champions Inter in a match staged in Beijing's iconic National Olympic Stadium.

Inter dominated the game in front of a capacity 70,000-crowd on the first anniversary of the Chinese capital's opening ceremony to the 2008 Olympic Games, but were unable to convert their possession and chances into goals.

Francelino Matuzalem put Lazio ahead against the run of play after 63 minutes before a touch of class from Tommaso Rocchi doubled their lead three minutes later.

New signing Samuel Eto'o pulled a goal back with 12 minutes remaining on the clock, but despite their efforts, Inter were unable to find an equaliser as they missed out on the first piece of silverware of the new season.

Jose Mourinho's side, who kick start the defence of their Serie A title against newly-promoted Bari on August 23, thought they had equalised through Diego Milito late on, but Eto'o was adjudged to be interfering with play from an offside position as he let the ball pass through his legs into the goal.

Sulley Muntari, Lucio and Eto'o had the Nerazzurri's best chances but goalkeeper Fernando Muslera proved to be the Lazio hero with a number of saves. Mauro Zarate caused a few problems at the other end with a couple of strong efforts.

The outcome means new Lazio coach Davide Ballardini tastes success in his first competitive match in charge. It is the Biancocelesti's third Super Cup win and a trophy they add to last season's Coppa Italia.

The clear success of staging the Supercoppa match outside of Italy for a fourth time in its history could make a strong case for the Lega Calcio to take the annual show-piece final abroad on a regular basis to further increase global interest in the Italian game.

Today's match was screened live in prime-time to millions of people in China on free-to-air state television.