Serie A 2015-16: Lazio off to winning start as Roma stutter
Goals by Lucas Biglia and Ricardo Kishna secured a 2-1 win over Bologna and gave Lazio top spot in Serie A on Saturday`s opening day.
Third-place finishers last season, Lazio have taken one step towards the Champions League group stages after beating Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 in the first leg of their play-off last week.
Days before the return leg in Germany, Stefano Pioli`s men chalked up their first win of what they hope will be an even more successful season although it came at a price with midfielder Biglia stretchered off with a calf injury in the second half.
Biglia gave the hosts the lead inside 20 minutes when he rammed the ball past Antonio Mirante after a poor Bologna clearance.
Pioli handed Kishna -- who was signed in July from Ajax -- his debut in a front three alongside striker Keita Balde and Italy intenational Antonio Candreva, and the 20-year-old Dutch winger was soon on target.
A Candreva cross found its way through for Kishna to control and fire into the net at the back post for a near perfect Serie A debut.
"The three points is very encouraging, I`m delighted to have scored," said Kishna, who is of Dutch-Surinamese descent.
Bologna reduced the arrears on the stroke of half-time when Matteo Mancosu, also on his Serie A debut, ran on to a long ball to smash the finish in off the underside of Etrit Berisha`s crossbar.
Biglia was stretchered off shortly after the restart and is now a doubt for the return leg against Leverkusen on Wednesday.
"We don`t know exactly how bad he is but we hope it`s not serious, he`s crucial for us," said Pioli, who was frustrated at his players for giving Bologna hope of a late equaliser.
"We suffered more than we should have and should have wrapped up the three points when we had the chance."
Earlier, versatile right-back Alessandro Florenzi struck a second-half leveller in a 1-1 draw at Verona as Roma kicked off their bid for the Serie A title in unconvincing fashion.
Verona are notoriously tough to beat at their Bentegodi Stadium and Bosko Jankovic gave Andra Mandorlini`s side the lead on the hour after collecting from Emil Halfredsson to beat Wojciech Szczesny in the Roma goal from yards out.
Florenzi levelled just five minutes later when he beat Rafael with a drive from outside the area, and the visitors went on to create a handful of chances in the closing period only to settle for a draw.
Roma had signed Edin Dzeko and Mohamed Salah on loan in the close season but Dzeko headed over a late corner and further chances from Miralem Pjanic and Radja Nainggolan went amiss.
The draw ended Roma`s hopes of starting the season with a bang as they did two years ago when they set a Serie A record of 10 opening wins.
Coach Rudi Garcia had reiterated his desire for a repeat of that impressive run of victories, but admitted Verona had been tough to break down.
"We tried to spread Verona out as much as possible but they are a tough team to break down at home," said the Frenchman.
"But I`m happy with the positive attitude of the players. We gave it everything but couldn`t get the three points in the end."
Roma`s first big test of the season comes as early as next week when they host Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico.
Juventus, league and Cup double winners last season and beaten Champions League finalists against Barcelona, host Udinese on Sunday.