Despite the fairly lopsided result, Lazio-Lecce was the funniest and most eventful game of the round. The Biancocelesti came into the contest having triumphed three times in a row, against Fiorentina, Torino and Milan, while the Salentini had collected four straight ties.
Filippo Inzaghi was able to field almost all of his go-to XI minus Stefan Radu, who is hurt, and replaced him with Patric, with some re-shuffling in the back as Francesco Acerbi was used as left centre-back. Manuel Lazzari manned the right wing with Adam Marusic on the shelf. Fabio Liverani instead lost Filippo Falco to a knee injury on Sunday morning and thus fielded Gianluca Lapadula and Khouma Babacar as his attacking duo, while Jacopo Petriccione filled in for the injured Andrea Tabanelli in the midfield.
Joaquin Correa and Luis Alberto challenged Gabriel with decent shots in the first two minutes of action, but the Giallorossi responded with some counters: Thomas Strakosha denied Babacar’s tame attempt on the first threatening one. After Sergej Milinkovic-Savic could not properly latch onto a feed by Lucas Leiva in the box, on the other end Marco Mancosu skied it from perfect position on another combination on open spaces between the forwards.
The Eagles broke the deadlock at the half an hour mark, as Luis Alberto found Joaquin Correa in the box and the Argentinian striker slotted it home despite the heavy traffic. However, the home team manged to equalize before the end of the half, as Andrea Rossettini flicked on a corner kick and Lapadula punched it in on the far post, scoring for the third fixture in a row. They almost got the lead at the beginning of the second half, but Strakosha batted away at the last second a potent header by Babacar.
Lazio returned on top few minutes later, as Milinkovic-Savic this time made no mistake, beat Marco Calderoni to the punch on a sharp low cross by Acerbi and burned the goalie. Ten minutes later, the big Serbian and Mancosu collided in the box and the referee whistled a penalty for Lecce: Babacar stepped up to the plate, Strakosha saved it and Lapadula bagged the rebound, but it was called off because he entered the box too early.
Then it was the Biancocelesti’s turn to draw a penalty, as the ball hit Calderoni’s hand while he was trying to contain Milinkovic-Savic on the base line, but in this case Ciro Immobile hit bullseye. The Italian centre-forward then set up Correa on a fast-break and the teammate blasted it home from close range. The final highlight of the contest was a successful header by Simone La Mantia on a delivery by Petriccione, with the striker thus finding his first Serie A goal.
With this result, Lazio leapfrog the cross-town rivals of Roma and move to the third place, on a par with Cagliari, and pulled away from Atalanta and Napoli. The Salentini are instead 16th, one point above the relegation zone.
It was a fantasy bonanza thanks to the multiple scorers: Correa paced everybody with his eight-point haul, Immobile racked five, Milinkovic-Savic and La Mantia four for scoring, one fewer for Lapadula due to a yellow card. Alberto and Petriccione earned two for their assists, Acerbi one because he was booked. Immobile registered his 14 goal in the season, while Alberto moved to eight helpers: both are League-leaders in such categories.
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