Ciro Immobile hit a hat-trick as Lazio came from behind to secure a 5-1 victory over Hellas Verona, at the Stadio Bentegodi in Serie A on Sunday.
Trailing to a Sofyan Amrabat penalty, the Biancoceleste drew level with a penalty of their own, as Immobile fired in. Early in the second half Lazio stepped up a gear and were rewarded as Joaquin Correa’s effort followed a deflected Sergej Milinkovic-Savic freekick.
Late on, Immobile sealed a comprehensive win with a magnificent curling effort, before slotting in a second penalty in injury time, as he stepped up his pursuit of the Capocannoniere crown.
Verona started brightly and saw much of the early play, but were unable to find an opening. Mattia Zaccagni was inches away from connecting to a dangerous Davide Faraoni cross at the back post, whilst his stooping header from Miguel Veloso’s teasing delivery went over.
Meanwhile, Immobile blasted over the bar from a one-two with Correa, whilst the striker’s turn and pass in the box cannoned off Amir Rrahmani to fly just past the post.
However, just as Lazio looked to be getting a hold of the match, they shot themselves in the foot with a costly defensive blunder. Luiz Felipe allowed a simple ball to roll across him in the box and Zaccagni robbed him of possession, before being clipped by the defender. Amrabet made no mistake from the spot, sending Strakosha the wrong way.
In stoppage time Lazio were awarded a spot kick of their own, as Darko Lazovic handled in the box whilst attempting to block from Immobile. After a lengthy VAR check, Immobile stepped up and fired the Aquile level.
The Biancoceleste started the second period on the front foot and ought to have taken the lead within minutes as Milinkovic-Savic nodded a cross back into the six yard box. Francesco Acerbi sent his header over the crossbar though, as Lazio began to threaten.
At the other end, a quick break saw Lazovic released in the box and his cutback came off Luiz Felipe and against the post, with Strakosha stranded.
Lazio turned the match on it’s head shortly before the hour mark however, as Milinkovic-Savic’s freekick came off the back of Matteo Pessina and wrong-footed goalkeeper Boris Radunovic.
Minutes later Milinkovic-Savic was instrumental once more as Lazio extended their lead. Picking up the ball in a crowded box, the Serbian threaded Correa through and his low shot flicked off Koray Gunter to nestle into the bottom corner.
Verona weren’t without chances of their own and Fabio Borini forced a fine one-handed save with a powerful strike from a tight angle.
Meanwhile, Strakosha pulled off a magnificent point-blank save from Eddie Salcedo’s close range header, as the hosts pushed forward to reduce the deficit.
Lazio wrapped it up in style late on however, as Jordan Lukaku broke forward and found Immobile out wide. The prolific striker bent a stunning effort into the top corner, giving debutant Radunovic no chance.
Deep into stoppage time, Immobile raced clear and was caught by Radunovic. The striker dusted himself down and found the bottom corner from the penalty spot for his 33rd goal of the season.