Lazio beat Juventus 2-1 at Turin’s Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday to reach their first Coppa Italia final since 2004 with a 4-2 aggregate victory.
A stunning strike from on-loan Argentina forward Mauro Zarate and a deflected effort from Serbian full-back Aleksandar Kolarov put Lazio in the driving seat before Alessandro Del Piero’s late consolation.
The match finished on a sour note for Juve as Mauro Camoranesi was sent off late on and the game was also marred by more ugly chanting by some Juve fans against Inter Milan’s black striker Mario Balotelli.
Lazio coach Delio Rossi said his side deserved their success.
“We deserve to be in the final. We knocked out AC Milan and Juve. This has been an up-and-down season,” he said. “This team has quality and it’s just being born. Zarate is learning to play for the team and we’re benefiting from that.”
Perhaps more concerned with finishing second in Serie A than reaching the Cup final, Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri made a number of changes to his starting line-up, even though the Old Lady of Turin were chasing a 2-1 first leg deficit.
Juve lined up with the unfamiliar center-back pairing of Olof Mellberg and Lorenzo Ariaudo while Del Piero, Pavel Nedved and Camoranesi all started on the bench.
Ranieri said afterwards that they would now concentrate on finishing second.
“We wanted to qualify for the final and we tried to win, but we didn’t manage it,” he said. “Now we have to continue to do well and try to secure that second place.”
Barcelona turned on the style again at Camp Nou on Wednesday, crushing Sevilla 4-0 to restore their six-point lead at the La Liga summit.
Real Madrid had closed to within three points with a morale-boosting, late 3-2 win over Getafe on Tuesday, but Barcelona show no signs of cracking under the pressure and destroyed third-placed Sevilla even without talisman Lionel Messi.
Real have been the experts of late goals this season, but Barcelona prefer seeing off teams with early goals and scored twice in the first 16 minutes to seize control.
Andres Iniesta scored a sensational opener after just two minutes before Samuel Eto’o struck his 27th goal of the campaign.
Xavi and Thierry Henry added second-half goals and Barcelona now have 92 goals for the season as they target Real’s all-time record of 107 set when they won the league title in 1990.
“We are going for everything this season,” Iniesta said. “We played well tonight, scored good goals and got the points. We have difficult games against Valencia and Chelsea coming up so we can’t relax and have to keep on going.”
The win was all the more impressive as it was achieved without the magical Messi, who was left out after being unable to train due to stomach pains.
The pressure is now on Atletico and Villarreal, lying joint sixth six points behind Valencia, with Atletico at Racing Santander yesterday, while Villarreal were to entertain Recreativo Huelva.
Goalkeeper Tim Wiese held his nerve to make three consecutive saves as Werder Bremen beat 10-man Hamburg 3-1 on penalties in their German Cup semi-final on Wednesday.
Goals by Bremen’s Germany defender Per Mertesacker and Hamburg’s Bayern Munich-bound striker Ivan Olic had meant it was 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes, but home side Hamburg had captain David Jarolim sent off deep in injury time.