Breaking his goal drought and Lazio negative streak was the perfect way for Ciro Immobile to celebrate his birthday.
Words: Elio Salerno
On the eve of his 28th birthday, the Lazio hitman returned to goal scoring ways to secure his side three vital points in their chase for a highly coveted Champions League spot. It has been a poor month by the recent high standards set by Immobile and Lazio, as last night’s win was their first in six outings.
Monday night’s home win over Verona represented the end of striker Immobile’s mini-goal drought. After registering four against SPAL at the start of January, the Lazio Number 17 had failed to find the net in his last five games. The league Capocannoniere has now hit 22 goals for the season, with last night’s brace extending his lead at the goal top of the goal-scoring charts. Immobile is now four ahead of Inter’s Mauro Icardi and five ahead of Sampdoria’s Fabio Quagliarella with 13 rounds remaining.
Immobile had the opportunity to open the scoring in the game’s early stages only to be thwarted by Nicolas in the Verona goal. The Lazio striker returned to strike twice within five minutes at the start of the second half to settle any nerves around the Stadio Olimpico.
Those two goals topped off a fine all round performance from Immobile; attempting eight shots in total, the Italian international also completed 73% of his 30 passes and contributed four key passes in the process.
It was a welcome win for Simone Inzaghi and his men, leapfrogging Inter into fourth, they will now attempt to turn around their Europa League tie against FC Steaua Bucharest on Thursday. For Immobile it was the ideal way to begin celebrations for his 28th birthday and continue a great season in front of goal.
Luis Alberto (Lazio)
Lazio’s creative talent was at his inspirational best against Verona as he grabbed another assist and created constant problems for the opposition defence.
Mattia Perin (Genoa)
After suffering from season defining injuries in recent years, the Genoa stopper is looking back to his best. Keeping a second consecutive clean sheet, Perin produced a solid display and flying saves to keep Inter out.
Cheick Diabaté (Benevento)
Coming on as a second half substitute for Benevento, the Mali international pounced to grab a last-minute winner for his side in their relegation scrap against Crotone. Le Streghe recorded what was only their third win of the season as they continue to attempt a miracle escape from relegation.
Alex Sandro (Juventus)
The Brazilian has had a below par season to date, but he stood up in the derby against Torino when his side needed him. Deployed in a more advanced attacking role, the Brazilian showed his football intelligence as he took to the role with relative ease and grabbed the match winning goal in the process.
Cengiz Under (Roma)
A left-foot rocket made it four goals in three games for the Turkish international. The 20-year-old has hit a streak of form just at the time his Roma side need it.
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