Fright night for Fiorentina as Immobile strikes at the death for Lazio

An incredibly late goal from Ciro Immobile at the Stadio Olimpico meant that Lazio ended Serie A Matchday 10 with a win over Fiorentina.

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STADIO OLIMPICO (Rome): For Fiorentina, a trip to the Olimpico has often been like visiting a House of Horrors. And on the night before Halloween, Ciro Immobile was the man to haunt La Viola once more as the Lazio captain scored a penalty with the final kick of the game to continue the Florentines’ nightmare run at this venue and hand the euphoric hosts a crucial 1-0 win.

Vincenzo Italiano took his side south with a point to prove. Not only had they failed to win away to Lazio since May 2016, but the Biancocelesti remained the only member of the ‘Seven Sisters’ that the coach was yet to defeat during his spell in Florence.

What’s more, a shock 2-0 loss to Empoli last weekend had many asking familiar questions about if Fiorentina’s early-season hint at a top-four bid will be just another false dawn.

Lazio respond to Feyenoord loss

They weren’t the only side with an axe to grind, though. A good recent run of three consecutive wins had Lazio fans feeling cautiously optimistic that the team was turning things around after a dreadful start, but a Champions League lesson from Feyenoord on Wednesday suggested otherwise.

In the end, the unfortunate Nikola Milenkovic was penalised for a handball in the dying seconds, allowing Immobile – who started on the bench – to shrug off recent criticism and slam home a spot kick.

It earned Maurizio Sarri‘s side a third consecutive Serie A win and propelled them into seventh place, one point behind La Viola and within three of the top four.

Fiorentina got off to the brighter start, as they have so often this season – no side in Serie A has scored more than their five goals in the opening 15 minutes.

Lucas Beltran thought he had made that six when he raced after Giacomo Bonaventura’s ball over the top, brought the ball down, rounded Ivan Provedel and tapped in a nice finish.

But the Lazio defenders seemed certain of a handball and the VAR images proved them right, so the goal was chalked off – only for the Argentinian striker to thump a header off the foot of the post four minutes later as the Viola piled on the pressure.

Fiorentina’s strong start fades as Lazio settle

After receiving two big warnings, Lazio settled into the game, but the consistency with which their attacks broke down in the final third left the home crowd howling in frustration, be it through poor decision-making, badly executed crosses or simply an apparent unwillingness to shoot.

A chorus of whistles greeted the half-time whistle, but they turned to groans of disbelief when, 10 minutes into the second half, Taty Castellanos was left with just the keeper to beat and dragged his shot wide.

Castellanos found himself in another good position minutes later but was off balance and fizzed his finish over, before Pietro Terracciano beat away a point-blank finish from Felipe Anderson as Lazio’s pressure increased and the skies opened.

Terracciano came to Fiorentina’s rescue again with 65 minutes on the clock when he blocked an Alberto effort with his legs, before Anderson had two bites at the cherry on a counter-attack but had his first blocked before smashing the second high over the bar.

Substitute Matias Vecino was next to line one up, pulling a shot wide from 25 yards before M’Bala Nzola and Maxime Lopez put shots from dangerous positions too close to Provedel.

The torrential rain appeared to have dampened spirits as well as fans and players as vain hopes for a decisive goal came and went at either end of the pitch.

But then, in the final minute of stoppage time, disaster struck for the sodden men in purple when Vecino’s header struck the outstretched arm of Milenkovic.

Up stepped Immobile, and the Aquile captain slammed his spot kick into the bottom corner to spark euphoric scenes in the stands.

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