Fitting farewell for Zanetti
Last Updated: 10/05/14 10:31pm
Inter bid farewell to Javier Zanetti at the San Siro
Javier Zanetti bid an emotional farewell to an adoring San Siro crowd as Inter Milan marked the Argentinian's impending retirement with a 4-1 comeback victory against Lazio.
The 40-year-old's time with the Nerazzurri is coming to an end after 19 years and the full-back watched from the bench as countrymen Rodrigo Palacio and Mauro Icardi turned the game on its head following Giuseppe Biava's early opener.
He took to the San Siro pitch for the last time before Hernanes scored Inter's fourth goal - against the club he left in January - with the final result all but securing Walter Mazzarri's men in fifth place.
Loud cheers for Zanetti were still echoing around San Siro when Inter were caught unaware by Biava.
Two minutes in, Lorik Cana found himself all alone at the far post following a corner and, after his header was spilled into the six-yard box, Biava tucked the ball home.
Hush descended, but not for long, as Palacio soon struck the first blow of a swift Inter comeback.
Argentinians would score goals that revived the hosts, yet they had Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic to thank for carving open the Lazio defence.
His first contribution, a slide-rule pass which beat the offside trap, ended up with Palacio and he needed just one touch to beat Etrit Berisha.
Keita Balde Diao came close to restoring Lazio's lead in the 24th minute when letting rip from the edge of the Inter box. Samir Handanovic made the save before denying Ogenyi Onazi on the rebound.
It was another magical touch from Kovacic that allowed Inter to go 2-1 up 10 minutes before the break.
The 20-year-old produced the perfect through-ball for Icardi, who could not fail to score from his one-on-one with Berisha.
Then, only three minutes later, Palacio capitalised on a critical lapse in concentration from Berisha to tap Nagatomo's low cross from the left into the net.
Seven minutes after the restart it was time for Zanetti to make an appearance and the veteran was treated to a standing ovation when replacing Jonathan.
Lazio tried to spoil the moment through Biava, who was only denied the chance to score Lazio's second goal with his head by a wonderful save from Handanovic.
The Romans kept on pushing and again came close to reducing the deficit when Keita tried his luck from an angle, only for Handanovic to make the stop at his near post.
Inter needed a few more miracles from their Slovenian keeper to keep Lazio at bay.
In the 73rd minute Handanovic somehow managed to deny Felipe Anderson with his feet and, three minutes later, he pulled off an energetic double save on the Brazilian and then Antonio Candreva.
But just as it seemed Lazio would get back into the game, they were wounded by a former employee.
Yet another break orchestrated by the enchanting Kovacic saw the ball arrive at Hernanes' feet and the one-time Lazio star gratefully rifled it past Berisha with trademark accuracy.
Italian Serie A