Ciro Immobile netted a hat-trick as Lazio came from behind to beat Hellas Verona 5-1 in Serie A on Sunday, as the striker edged closer to the Capocannoniere crown.
The former Torino forward hit two penalties, either side of an outstanding lofted finish, as the Biancoceleste moved to within a point of second-placed Inter.
Sofyan Amrabat had given the hosts the lead from the spot at the Stadio Bentegodi, before Immobile’s first penalty drew level. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s deflected freekick and a Joaquin Correa strike put Lazio ahead in the second half, and Immobile completed the rout with two more goals late on.
Record in sight
Immobile had been far from prolific before joining Lazio after ill-fated spells and Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla respectively, but has exploded into one of the deadliest finishers in Serie A since his switch to the capital in 2016.
The striker has been in red hot form this campaign as the Aquile enjoyed a title challenge earlier in the season, and registered his 34th goal with his late penalty against Verona. The most prolific Italian in a single campaign in history, Immobile is far from finished and with 101 Lazio goals to his name, is just six shy of becoming the club’s second highest scorer.
With two matches remaining this season, Gonzalo Higuain’s record 36 strikes for Napoli in 2014/15 are will within his sights and it would take a brave person to bet against him at least matching the Argentine before the year is out.
Meanwhile, a battle for the top scorer crown with Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo continues to heat up, with Immobile in pole position again.
Concentration key for Verona
It is impossible to argue that Verona have not enjoyed a dream return to the top flight since winning the Serie B playoffs last summer. Pushing for European qualification until recently, the Gialloblu remain on course for a top half finish under the guidance of Ivan Juric.
However, their campaign has been hit by unfortunate collapses and Lazio were more than willing recipients, as they turned a 1-0 deficit into a 5-1 thrashing.
Only basement boys Brescia have thrown away more points from a winning position than the 25 Verona have let slip, and it may well have cost them a European spot. Juric will certainly hope that a season of Serie A under the belts of his squad will provide the experience to hold onto leads next term.