Ciro Immobile broke his goal drought with a brace as Lazio swept Hellas Verona aside 2-0 to surge into fourth place, ending their crisis.
This was a very important game at both ends of the table, as the Aquile had one draw from their last five competitive matches, while Hellas were desperate to escape the drop zone. Jordan Lukaku stepped in, moving Senad Lulic to a more central role in the absence of suspended Lucas Leiva, as Lazio tried to end their four-match winless streak. Moise Kean returned for Verona, but Alex Ferrari and Alessio Cerci were injured. Romanian defender Deian Boldor was given a surprise Serie A debut.
Verona have not beaten Lazio in Rome since their Scudetto-winning 1984-85 campaign, managing two draws and nine defeats. There have been 38 goals in the last nine editions of this fixture between Serie A and the Coppa Italia.
Nicolas was kept busy from the start, parrying efforts from Luis Alberto and Ciro Immobile, then the centre-forward was sent clear by a slide-rule pass only to blast wide.
Mohamed Fares got a glancing header to stop Immobile nodding in a Luis Alberto corner from a yard and on the resulting corner Nicolas smothered the Wallace effort.
Lazio were increasingly wasteful, as Adam Marusic was totally unmarked at the back post on a Stefan Radu cross only to volley horribly off target.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s looping header landed on the roof of the net, but Luis Alberto went even closer as his strike cannoned off the crossbar on 33 minutes with the aid of a deflection off Boldor.
Fares was decisive again by intercepting a cross for Milinkovic-Savic’s header and on the stroke of half-time Immobile volleyed over the bar.
The siege continued after the break, but Verona found themselves in the opposition penalty area with a dangerous counter-attack only for Ryder Matos to hit a fresh-air shot.
They finally broke through with Capocannoniere Immobile, who sprung the offside trap on a Luis Alberto slide-rule pass, turned and drilled into the near bottom corner from 14 yards. It was his first strike since January 6, his 21st in Serie A.
Moments later, Luis Alberto tried to replicate the finish, turning just wide of the same upright. Immobile broke his five-game drought in style, adding a second goal in five minutes. Nicolas did what he could with a reaction save on Senad Lulic – set up by Immobile – but the striker nodded in the rebound.
Kean and Calvano had powerful snapshots that were off target for Verona, while Romulo failed to make the most of a promising move.
Luis Alberto almost curled in a sensational effort from practically the corner flag, but Nicolas fingertipped it over the bar.
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