Some hard-fought contests in this round: the most intense turned out to be Sampdoria-Lazio, as the Blucerchiati did not roll over despite the events of the first half.
The locals came into the game looking for three points to fuel a desperate comeback for the Europa League zone after they had dropped three of the last four fixtures, while Lazio were riding the high of reaching the Coppa Italia final and had to atone for the incredible loss to Chievo last week.
Marco Giampaolo selected Alex Ferrari to substitute the injured Joachim Andersen and, as it has often been the case, chose Gaston Ramirez and Gregoire Defrel to fill out the front-line next to Fabio Quagliarella. Simone Inzaghi opted to rest Ciro Immobile, starting the Joaquin Correa-Felipe Caicedo pair, and substituted the disqualified Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic with Marco Parolo and Danilo Cataldi.
The Biancocelesti got off to a brilliant start as after just three minutes, Caicedo stripped Omar Colley about ten meters into his own half, raced down the right flank, resisted the return of the muscular defender and beat Emil Audero on the one-on-one.
Caicedo sent a good header wide after a terrific mazing run by Correa, but it did not take him long to score his second of the evening, as at the 19th minute Romulo motored down the right wing, sent in a great delivery and the Ecuadorean bagged it with a deadly accurate header.
Gaston Ramirez forced a solid save out of Thomas Strakosha with a free kick, but he got sent off for a second bookable offense just before half time. The Genoa-based club came out of intermission with Jakub Jankto in for Karol Linetty and a modified tactic. They survived the guests’ initial burst, as Romulo hit the far post on a cross-shot, but then finally managed to get into the game.
After 12 minutes, Albin Ekdal sent a little ball over the top, Francesco Acerbi mistakenly set up Fabio Quagliarella with an errant backwards header and the centre-forward made no mistake in front of the goalie for his 150th goal in Serie A.
Nicola Murru came close to knot it four minutes later, but his piledriver rattled the woodwork and then bounced wide after ricocheting off Strakosha’s back. Ciro Immobile had the same faith on a rocket free kick from just outside the box.
The Eagles held on with some luck in the final minutes: on a counter Jankto sent in a potent square ball and the uncovered Defrel did not find the proper way to meet it and incredibly put it wide from the six-yard box line.
Lazio kept pace with Atalanta, Roma and Torino that were victorious this week, gained ground on Milan but stayed in seventh placed, while Sampdoria are now seven points behind them.
Limited earners in the fantasy game: Caicedo paced the participants with his eight points, Quagliarella got the usual four for the goal and Romulo two for the assist.
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