A clear-cut choice this week for game of the week, as Lazio-Inter was simply one of the most dramatic and flat-out best matches of the season and obviously had a lot of stake. The Nerazzurri had just one result to qualify to the next Champions League and they had to win on the road against a team that has arguably performed better all year long. However, showing great character and determination and seizing the opportunities presented to them, they were successful.
Lazio had not lost since the beginning of March, but did drop some key points recently against Crotone and Atalanta, also because of some significant injuries. The Beneamata was coming off an inexplicable loss at home against Sassuolo, but they had prevailed in the previous two road games.
Ciro Immobile recovered from a hamstring strain, Luis Alberto and Marco Parolo did not, so Simone Inzaghi picked Felipe Anderson and Alessandro Murgia to replace them. After much debate during the week, Stefan De Vrij, who has already signed the contract to join Inter for free in the summer, indeed started. Luciano Spalletti chose Matias Vecino over Borja Valero and went pretty much with his usual XI.
The Eagles had a better approach to the game and immediately started generating chance after chance: Luiz Felipe skied it from close range after a great action and feed by Immobile from the right flank, then Samir Handanovic denied a header by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic from the six-yard box. Lazio capitalized the superiority at the ninth minute, with the Serbian star controlling a long ball in the box and setting up Adam Marusic, whose potent, but likely wide attempt crawled in the net after hitting Ivan Perisic’s face.
Inter had an immediate chance to equalize off a mistake by the Lazio back-line, but Mauro Icardi shot it very poorly in front of the opposing goalkeeper. Shortly thereafter, Milinkovic-Savic smacked the woodwork with a magnificent free kick. The guests levelled the game at the 30-minute mark, with Danilo D’Ambrosio beating Thomas Strakosha with a double deflection on a corner kick, showing great awareness.
The Biancocelesti went again up in the score before the pause: on a corner kick by Inter, Senad Lulic and Felipe Anderson combined in a triangle that basically covered the whole length of the pitch. The Brazilian speedster ignited the fast break, the Bosnian threaded the needle and the attacker burned Handanovic with a daisy-cutter on the far post.
Lazio did not put the game to bed at the beginning of the second half and the very opportunistic Inter pulled it off thanks to three key episodes in the final portion. First, Mauro Icardi transformed a penalty after a collective mistake by the Lazio defence: Strakosha hurried a punt return, which was immediately sent back by a Nerazzurri, the back-line was all over the place in terms of positioning and De Vrij fouled the Argentinian centre-forward, who had easily beaten the offside trap, in a last-ditch effort to prevent the goal.
A couple of minutes later, the already booked Senad Lulic had an unnecessary tackle on an opponent in the attacking half and was sent off. Inter smelled blood and pounced, with Matias Vecino beating Marusic and Milinkovic-Savic in the air and bagging a beautiful thumping header on a corner kick. Three goals on set pieces for the Nerazzurri. Lazio tried to muster a reaction with Luis Nani and Felipe Caicedo, but they did not have enough energies.
The thrill-ride led to a decent haul in the fantasy game: Icardi and Vecino garnered four points, Danilo D’Ambrosio two and Marcelo Brozovic one for an assist for Inter, Felipe Anderson got four for Lazio because the other offensive contributions were wiped off by some detractions.
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