Fiorentina and Lazio drew 1-1 at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Sunday night in Serie A, as both teams lost ground in the race for European football next season.
It was Ciro Immobile who opened the scoring midway through the first half, but Fiorentina fought back as Luis Muriel drew the hosts level just after the hour mark to earn the home side a point, with his third goal in three matches.
The Viola have conceded at least one goal against Lazio for 11 Serie A games in a row, and avoided losing back-to-back games for the first time this season.
As a result, any hope of Lazio fighting for Champions League football look to have faded as they are now eight points behind fourth place Inter, while Fiorentina drop seven behind Atalanta, Torino and Roma as they chase the Europa League.
For the opening 20 minutes, both sides were quite even, though Pietro Terracciano, who was making his debut for the Viola, parried an Immobile shot onto the woodwork which was the sign of things to come.
Not long after, Terracciano could nothing as a splendid Immobile curler that broke the deadlock on 22 minutes, putting Lazio ahead.
The goalkeeper kept Fiorentina in the game with another three decisive saves before the half-time whistle, denying Immobile, Joaquin Correa and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, as Lazio went in much the dominant side.
Fiorentina barely managed a shot on target in the first half, and Stefano Pioli night got worse, as Federico Chiesa was subbed off on 35 minutes through injury and was in tears on the bench.
Pioli brought on Kevin Mirallas to add some spark up the Viola attack and the former Everton man went close to scoring on 60 minutes with a volley that went just wide.
Mirallas took centre stage just minutes later, as he dribbled past Senad Lulic and served the perfect assist for Muriel to easily tap in the equaliser, and get his sixth goal in eight matches for Fiorentina.
Neither side had the energy to score another goal and both came out with a point from this game, as a European finish is further away for both.
THE COUNTER GAME
Both Fiorentina and Lazio have quick strikers who love playing on the counter. It was always going to be a matter of who could do it better. Lazio were perfect in executing their game plan, sitting deep and attracting Fiorentina onto the defence to then quickly attack on the break. This happened throughout the game – especially in the first half – and lead to Lazio’s main chances, including Immobile’s opening goal. The Fiorentina attack was flat onto Lazio’s defence, with sometimes even four or five men on a same line. When it worked, Lazio were great in leaving little space and then exploiting the full length of the pitch on the counter.
TAKE YOUR CHANCES
Lazio showed superiority to Fiorentina for most of the game, either making the most of the space or pushing the Viola back. Especially in the first half, the visitors had plenty of chances. But if the opportunities don’t translate to goals, everything becomes harder. Inzaghi’s men should have scored at least another in the first 45 minutes, and would have probably won this game without too many problems.