Luca Toni bagged a brace as Hellas Verona tore sorry Lazio apart to go nine points clear of their opponents.
Whatever the result, newly-promoted Hellas would still finish 2013 ahead of Lazio in the Serie A table, as they went into the weekend six points in front. Andrea Mandorlini’s men had left the run of three consecutive defeats behind them. Vladimir Petkovic stopped the Aquile crisis with last week’s win over Livorno, ending a month-long drought of success. Hernanes sat out a ban with the injured Alvaro Gonzalez and Bruno Pereirinha.
It was a battle of the veteran hitmen and first blood went to Luca Toni, who was allowed a free header on Jorginho’s free kick, finding the top corner.
Iturbe almost made it 2-0, but fired straight at Federico Marchetti in a one-on-one. Lazio incredibly failed to score on 24 minutes when Rafael missed the low Ederson cross and Klose came sliding in, but Domenico Maietta found himself in the way for a goalline clearance from six yards.
Lucas Biglia did get Lazio level with a free header from a corner, though Rafael again could’ve done better. It was the former Anderlecht midfielder’s debut Serie A goal.
Verona restored their advantage on the stroke of half-time when Iturbe’s free kick bounced right in front of Marchetti, surprising the goalkeeper.
Straight after the restart Lorik Cana got his head to a corner, but brought a fantastic reaction save out of Rafael. Lazio were very aggressive now and Rafael was again called into action on Biglia from a dead ball situation.
Toni turned just wide on a Juanito Gomez Taleb counter-attack, then the veteran striker’s volley cannoned off Marchetti’s chest from six yards.
Verona gave themselves a two-goal cushion with a well-worked move. Toni sprung the offside trap on Gomez Taleb’s pass and drew defenders away, rolling across for the unmarked Romulo to tap in at the back stick.
Klose should’ve put Lazio back in it moments later, but turned a Keita Balde’ cross wide from close range.
Toni completed his brace thanks to a double defensive error, as Jorginho took advantage of slip-ups to roll across for his finish.