Immobile strikes again as Lazio stun Bayern Munich in Champions League

Lazio earned a 1-0 win over Bayern Munich to take a slender advantage to Germany for the second leg of their Round of 16 Champions League tie, thanks to Ciro Immobile's penalty.

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STADIO OLIMPICO (Rome): There are few greater love stories in Italian football than that of Ciro Immobile and Lazio, so it was fitting that the Biancocelesti captain’s strike clinched one of his club’s greatest results in recent history on Valentine’s Day.

Immobile’s second half penalty, earned after a Dayot Upamecano was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Gustav Isaksen, sealed a remarkable 1-0 victory over the mighty Bayern Munich in the first leg of the Round of 16 in the Champions League.

The Lazio captain, fresh off netting a landmark 200th Serie A goal at the weekend, kept his cool from the spot to increase the decibels in an already eardrum-bursting Olimpico.

But their success was built on the foundations of an outstanding defensive performance of focused organisation and lung-busting work ethic.

Lazio will take their slender lead to the Allianz Stadium for the second leg on March 5, hoping to reach the quarter-finals of Europe’s top competition for just the second time – and the first since their scudetto-winning year of 1999/00.

Lazio hold their nerve

Maurizio Sarri’s plan to summon the spirit of last season and rely on an airtight defence was tested from the first whistle, with Bayern roaring out as they looked to quickly make amends for their damaging weekend defeat to title rivals Bayer Leverkusen.

A Joshua Kimmich shot from the edge of the area whistled wide, before an unbalanced Harry Kane met a Thomas Muller cut-back but fired over from six yards.

Two warnings in seven minutes was an ominous sign for the hosts, and memories of their 4-1 capitulation at an empty Olimpico in this fixture three years ago must have come flooding back for some in the stands.

But Sarri’s side steadied themselves and soon found a measure of confidence. While their plan was always going to be to sit in, soak up pressure, and look to break quickly, they started to execute the strategy more effectively as the minutes ticked on.

Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller delivers a cross into the box in the Champions League (@FCBayern)

Defensive excellence secures win

The defensive work-rate on display was impressive, particularly the never-ending runs of winger-come-left-back Felipe Anderson, and the first chance to lift home fans out of their seats came midway through the half when Luis Alberto’s thumping drive flew narrowly over.

Bayern began to showcase their guile in a bid to break through, Leroy Sane bending a cleverly-worked free-kick just wide before Jamal Musiala could only fire over at the end of a dazzling series of one-touch passes that left the Germany star with space in the box.

There is perhaps no greater praise for Lazio’s first-half defensive performance than the fact that Bayern walked down the tunnel at the interval without having a shot on target for the first time since facing Manchester City last April.

While it was the Romans’ defence that stood out in the first half, it was their attack that suddenly lit up at the start of the second as an arcing Alberto through ball was met by Isaksen, who was sent clean through only for his shot to be blocked by the outrushing man-mountain Manuel Neuer.

Lazio winger Gustav Isaksen crosses the ball (@OfficialSSLazio)

Upamecano’s moment of madness proves costly

Bayern continued to threaten and continued to be thwarted by blue-shirted bodies, until the game took a jaw-dropping turn with 20 minutes to go.

Lazio hit on the break and Immobile bundled the ball out to Isaksen in the box, who fired a shot wide but took a sore one from Upamecano for his troubles.

The Frenchman’s studs were up and connected with Isaksen’s ankle, earning him a straight red card and Immobile the chance to put his side in front from the spot – which he did gladly.

Bayern kept coming with 10 men and there were certainly some nerves when the quiet Kane stepped up to take a 25-yard free-kick, but the Englishman slipped as another harmless effort clipped the wall and sailed off target.

Lazio threatened a second through counter-attacks as Bayern pushed, the tireless Anderson having a dangerous shot blocked in the box before a Pedro effort was held by Neuer.

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