STADIO OLIMPICO (Rome): Lazio provided a large and boisterous Stadio Olimpico crowd with a season finale to remember on Saturday as a frantic 3-3 draw with Hellas Verona proved enough to seal fifth place in Serie A.
Maurizio Sarri’s side knew they needed a point to avoid dropping behind rivals AS Roma into sixth, but they got off to a disastrous start when Giovanni Simeone and Kevin Lasagna scored for the mid-table visitors inside the opening 15 minutes.
January signing Jovane Cabral quickly pulled one back with his first goal for the Aquile and Felipe Anderson and Pedro struck either side of the break to complete a spectacular turnaround, only for Martin Hongla to grab an equaliser for the visitors.
More than 50,000 Lazio fans packed out the Olimpico to create a festival atmosphere as the curtain dropped on the 2021/22 season, but the crowd was soon left dismayed when a familiar problem was exposed yet again: lax defending.
Darko Lazovic was given time and space to hang a cross up to the back post for Simeone, who nodded in the simplest of close-range finishes to give the visitors the lead after six minutes.
On the 14th minute, Lasagna gathered the ball, strode forward and fired a powerful shot off both posts and in from 25 yards to double Verona’s advantage.
With the prospect of sliding into sixth now looking real, Lazio finally woke up, Cabral netting his first goal for the club with a tidy finish two minutes later.
Anderson levelled on the 29th minute, firing home after his initial effort was deflected back into his path, completing the Biancocelesti’s second two-goal comeback in six days after doing so against Juventus in Turin last week.
Lazio, who were missing creative hub Luis Alberto and top scorer Ciro Immobile through injury, pushed to take the lead after the break as debutant Dimitrije Kamenovic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic threatened from set pieces.
They found the breakthrough just after the hour-mark when Anderson’s shot was parried into the path of substitute Pedro for a simple tap-in.
But Verona wouldn’t go down without a fight and drew two top saves out of goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha before eventually drawing level with 13 minutes remaining, when Hongla scored his first Hellas goal by tapping into an empty net from a cut-back.
Francesco Acerbi was close to restoring the hosts’ lead when his effort was fingertipped off the post by Alessandro Berardi, but neither side could find the final breakthrough of an entertaining night.