Lazio 0 AC Milan 0: Stalemate at Stadio Olimpico in Coppa Italia first leg
Lazio failed to capitalise on having home advantage in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final as they were held to a 0-0 draw by AC Milan on Tuesday.
The battle between the last two beaten finalists never sparked into life at the Stadio Olimpico, though the outcome was hardly surprising considering they had failed to muster a goal between them in both meetings at the same stage of the competition last season.
Milan eventually went through to the final on penalties and the Rossoneri will be favourites to progress again this year with the second leg at San Siro, though the return fixture is not until April 23.
Lazio had the best opportunity to break the deadlock, Ciro Immobile carelessly shooting wide from a central position inside the penalty area to let Alessio Romagnoli – who had scuffed his clearance straight to the striker – off the hook in the opening half.
Both Francesco Acerbi and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic also failed to hit the target from long range and while Lucas Leiva did force Gianluigi Donnarumma into a save, his curling effort was straight at the goalkeeper.
Milan, meanwhile, were not helped by the loss of Franck Kessie, the midfielder substituted just before the half-hour mark having suffered an injury in an earlier challenge.
The visitors did briefly pose more of an attacking threat after the break, only to soon drop back and force their opponents to make all the running.
Milinkovic-Savic drifted a header over from a corner but did test Donnarumma from distance, his deflected strike comfortably held by the Italy international, who kept a clean sheet a day after celebrating his 20th birthday.
Donnarumma also got down low to deny Joaquin Correa, yet Milan's last line of defence was underworked by the hosts in a game that will not live too long in the memory of those who witnessed it.
What does it mean? Semi-final sitting in the balance
With Juventus' domination over – they have won the past four finals in the competition – and Fiorentina taking on Atalanta in the other semi-final, both Lazio and Milan will fancy their chances of Coppa Italia glory this season.
Their semi-final remains up for grabs with 90 minutes (at least) to play, albeit Gennaro Gattuso will be the happier of the two managers following a forgettable stalemate in Rome.
Orsato makes his mark in dull draw
With little to split the sides, one moment of excellence – or a dodgy decision – had the potential to be crucial in the tie. However, while the two sets of players were below par, referee Daniele Orsato was outstanding, including twice refusing to be fooled by theatrical falls from Lazio forward Correa in key situations.
Immobile miss may hurt Lazio's hopes
After three goals in Lazio's last two Coppa fixtures, Immobile fluffed his lines when it mattered against Milan. While Mateo Musacchio's attempted block may have had an impact, he should have at least hit the target from such a prime position before the break.
With the return leg nearly two months away, both teams will focus on the fight for a top-four finish in Serie A. Milan host Sassuolo on Saturday while Lazio have the small matter of a derby fixture against Roma on the same day.