Serie A Club of the Round – Lazio

lazio

Lazio were denied the clean sheet, and therefore a great fantasy haul, in the final minutes, but they still had by far the most commanding display of any team on Saturday. They had failed to win in five straight games, drawing with Sassuolo, Milan, Chievo and Sampdoria and tumbling against Atalanta.

Coming into the match, there were rumours Simone Inzaghi would do away with his usual 3-5-1-1 to field his three creative midfielders together. He indeed deployed Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Luis Alberto and Joaquin Correa from the start, but did it by keeping out both Milan Badelj and Lucas Leiva and using Marco Parolo as metronome in a very aggressive formation.

It paid off as Cagliari looked lifeless for most of the contest and the Biancocelesti created a bounty of chances. At the 12th minute, Joaquin Correa bamboozled a defender on the right portion of the box, his shot was rejected centrally and Milinkovic-Savic punched it in, snapping out of his scoring slump after three long months.

Minutes later, Correa almost potted it through the legs of Alessio Cragno, but the goalkeeper stopped it in time, and then Ciro Immobile hit the crossbar, but the ball bounced prior to the line. They doubled the score at the 22th minute, as Francesco Acerbi’s flying deflection or a corner kick was parried by the goalie, but he chased down the rebound and bundled it home for his third goal of the season.

Lazio kept cruising and the risks in the back were minimal, as Thomas Strakosha saved with his legs the only dangerous shot, by Paolo Faragò at the beginning of the second half. The Biancocelesti put the game away at the 66th minute, when Correa stripped the ball to an opponent, springing Immobile loose for a counter-attack, where he brilliantly set up an easy finish for Senad Lulic. The scene almost repeated itself ten minutes later with swapped roles, but the striker could not find the target. Their offensive linchpin was also denied by Cragno one more time.

They gave away a silly penalty in the final minute, with Bastos elbowing Joao Pedro on a corner kick, and the Brazilian midfielder converted it. With these three points, Lazio leapfrogged Milan and returned in the Champions League zone. From a fantasy perspective, the late mistake cost them a lot, so only the three goal scorers, Milinkovic-Savic, Acerbi and Lulic, brought home four points, and Immobile one for his assist.

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