Lazio reached the Italian Cup final with a 2-1 win over Juventus, which completed a 4-2 aggregate semi-final victory. Lazio coach Delio Rossi said his side deserved their success.
AFP - 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 benefitting 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 centre-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 insisted. "Now we have to continue to do well and try to secure that second place."
They were made to pay as Zarate hit a spectacular curler into the top corner on 37 minutes to open the scoring.
Kolarov doubled the visitors' advantage on 52 minutes in fortuitous fashion as his speculative shot glanced off Zdenek Grygera and spun over the despairing dive of Gianluigi Buffon.
Ranieri responded by throwing on Del Piero, Nedved and Camoranesi and after David Trezeguet had forced Lazio goalkeeper Nestor Muslera into a fine save, Juve pulled a goal back on 64 minutes.
Camoranesi created it, crossing to the back post where Del Piero lost his marker, took the ball on his chest and volleyed home left footed.
But that was as good as it got for Juve and the final whistle was greeted with a round of jeers.
Lazio will now meet either Inter or Sampdoria in next month's final. The pair meet at the San Siro on Thursday with Sampdoria holding a 3-0 first leg lead.
Meanwhile, the race row over Inter Milan striker Mario Balotelli rumbled on.
Juve have been ordered to play their next Serie A match behind closed doors after a section of fans racially taunted Balotelli, an Italian of Ghanaian descent, during the clash with Inter last Saturday.
Balotelli had annoyed the Juventus faithful at the weekend for his part in the sending off of Juve's Portuguese midfielder Tiago, who kicked Balotelli in frustration after the teenage forward played keep ball on the touchline with his side leading 1-0 -- the game ended in a 1-1 draw.
On Wednesday, the chanting against Balotelli started up again halfway through the first period, prompting the stadium announcer to ask the fans to desist, an announcement that was met with jeers.
Before the game began, some Juve fans chanted 'Balotelli's a son of a bitch'.
However, other fans made it clear they were not racist with a banner that showed support for other black players. It read: (Edgar) Davids, (Clarence) Seedorf, (Momo) Sissoko: true champions, true idols.
Date created : 2009-04-23