Immobile hits 200 as Lazio earn huge Champions League win over Feyenoord

A goal from history-maker Ciro Immobile was enough for Lazio to secure a vital victory against Feyenoord in the Champions League.

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STADIO OLIMPICO (Rome): They say big players deliver in the big moments. And just as the sun seemed to be setting on Lazio’s Champions League hopes, up stepped talisman Ciro Immobile to drag them back into the light against Feyenoord on Matchday 4.

It was the most monumental of ways for the 33-year-old to mark his 200th goal in a Biancocelesti shirt.

It was decisive in this 1-0 victory over Feyenoord, hugely significant for Lazio’s hopes of escaping their group, and came at a moment when the Aquile’s all-time top scorer was facing no end of criticism and questions about his possible decline.

A tough night for Lazio

Lazio’s Ivan Provedel punches the ball against Feyenoord in the Champions League. [@Feyenoord]

This was no cruise for Maurizio Sarri’s men. They had to scrap their way through much of the 90 minutes, throwing bodies in front of balls and crunching into tackles, but it was a fine response to a resounding defeat in Rotterdam two weeks ago and leaves them in a strong position to qualify.

Lazio leapt one point above Feyenoord into second place in Group E, one point behind leaders Atletico Madrid and six clear of Celtic, with a home clash against the Scottish champions and a trip to Madrid to come.

A surprisingly low attendance of 30,000 fans made it to the Olimpico amid grumbles about high ticket prices, but those present made their voices heard as a ferociously hostile reception was given to Feyenoord after Sarri challenged them to “make it an inferno.”

The Lazio players seemed fired up by the occasion and started brightly as they piled forward in search of an early goal, but off-target efforts from Matias Vecino and Felipe Anderson were the continuation of a recent theme of Sarri’s side – failing to turn possession in good areas into chances.

Lazio’s Mattia Zaccagni challenged by Feyenoord players in the Champions League. [@OfficialSSLazio]

Bart Niuewkoop clashed heads with Elseid Hysaj and was forced off on a stretcher after the nasty collision, but the Dutch visitors soon composed themselves and grew into the game.

A slick passing move and wonderfully judged run by Santiago Gimenez created the first big chance as the Mexican let fly but Ivan Provedel got down quickly to palm the shot wide.

Immobile rises to the occasion

As the seconds ticked past the 45-minute mark and the fans started to show some frustration about another night of wastefulness in front of goal, Immobile struck.

A turnover in midfield left the Feyenoord defensive line disorganised and Anderson clipped the ball in behind for Immobile to race after it, round the keeper and finish to hit his double-century.

The visitors from Rotterdam came out strongly in the second half but couldn’t find a way through the blue-shirted wall as Igor Paixao had a shot deflected over.

Lazio’s Elseid Hysaj defends against Feyenoord in the Champions League. [@Feyenoord]

Immobile was given a standing ovation when he made way for Taty Castellanos with half an hour left on the clock as Lazio entered the finishing straight towards a momentous three points.

Nerves were shredded when a glancing Gimenez header from an angled free-kick dropped inches wide of the far post, and again when Alessio Romagnoli almost inadvertently deflected the ball into his own net.

But on they held, thanks to a save from Provedel in the last act of the game. On they held to keep their European campaign alive, lift spirits ahead of Sunday’s Rome Derby and prove that a slow start from Immobile this season is no proof that the 200-goal marksman can’t still come up big when it matters most.

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