NEWS
Thursday March 14 2013
Kozak hat-trick sinks Stuttgart

Libor Kozak bagged a hat-trick as Lazio crushed Stuttgart 3-1 to reach the Europa League quarter-finals 5-1 on aggregate, but Federico Marchetti was taken to hospital.

This tie was played behind closed doors as the Biancocelesti began their two-match ban for repeated racist incidents involving their supporters. They had a 2-0 first leg win in Germany, but brought in Stefano Mauri for his first start in a month and impressive youngster Eddy Onazi. Stuttgart had Vedad Ibisevic available after suspension and introduced Cristian Molinaro.

Holzhauser forced Federico Marchetti to palm out for a corner in the opening moments from distance.

It took all of six minutes for Lazio to add to their aggregate lead, as Senad Lulic crossed from the by-line and Libor Kozak burst between the centre-backs to fire in with his left foot.

Stuttgart were still in shock when Kozak got his second just two minutes later. Hernanes was the provider this time with a long pass and the young Czech trapped on the edge of the box then finished with his right foot, as the defence was again caught out.

Ibisevic finally caused some danger, but the cross-shot from Shinji Okazaki was too powerful and he couldn’t get the tap-in.

A fierce Hernanes free kick forced Sven Ulreich into a tough save and Okazaki blasted over on the counter-attack.

Antonio Candreva’s screamer was parried into the path of Hernanes, whose pass back for Kozak was too far behind the striker.

There was a huge scare for Lazio before the break, as Ibisevic pounced on a poor Onazi backpass and Marchetti bravely rushed out to close it down, but the Stuttgart man kept going and accidentally kicked him in the head. The goalkeeper was down for some time and eventually had to be substituted, as he was clearly dazed, had a large bump on his forehead and a nasty cut. Marchetti was taken to hospital for tests.

Ibisevic threatened after the break with a cross to the back post, where Gotoku Sakai came tearing in for a shot beaten away for a corner by substitute goalkeeper Albano Bizzarri. From the corner Bizzarri was again called into action as Okazaki’s shot came through a sea of legs.

Lazio seemed to be sitting on their 4-0 aggregate lead in the second half and Stuttgart took advantage to get one back. Tamas Hajnal pounced on a poor Kozak clearance from a free kick to turn in from the edge of the box.

Okazaki continued to cause problems with his pace and Stefan Radu had to charge down his effort. From that corner, Bizzarri got his fingertips to Christian Gentner’s close-range attempt to turn it off the line.

Ibrahima Traore burst forward on the counter and nodded Molinaro’s cross straight at Bizzarri, then a diving Georg Niedermeier header skimmed the upright.

Candreva should’ve added a third, as Kozak met Lulic’s cross and saw Ulreich perform a stunning save from point-blank range, only for the midfielder to balloon over an open goal on the rebound.

Moments later Kozak completed his hat-trick with a trademark header on Candreva’s cross.

Lazio 3-1 Stuttgart (5-1 on agg)

Scorers: Kozak 6, 8, 87 (L), Hajnal 62 (S)

Lazio: Marchetti (Bizzarri 42); Pereirinha, Biava, Ciani, Radu; Candreva, Onazi, Hernanes (Ederson 73), Lulic; Mauri (Ledesma 64); Kozak

Stuttgart: Ulreich; Sakai, Tasci, Niedermeier, Molinaro; Gentnner, Holzhauser; Okazaki, Hajnal (Harnik 73), Macheda (Traore 64); Ibisevic

Ref: Hagen (NOR)

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