Three takeaways from Lazio 2-0 Celtic: Immobile makes an impact off the bench, Isaksen dazzles on the wing

Ciro Immobile scored twice for Lazio in their victory against Celtic on Champions League Matchday 5, taking the Aquile to the knockout rounds. Gustav Isaksen also made an impact for the Biancocelesti on the right wing.

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Lazio secured their passage to the Round of 16 of the Champions League with a 2-0 victory against Celtic in their Matchday 5 encounter thanks to two late goals from Ciro Immobile off of the bench.

The Biancocelesti faced the Scottish side in the early kick-off match on Tuesday evening, but after their win, they had to wait for Atletico Madrid to defeat Feyenoord later that evening and the Spanish side obliged, getting a 3-1 victory.

Lazio needed their talisman and captain Immobile to come off the bench, and he made the difference, finding the back of the net twice. Although his experience was important, young Danish winger Gustav Isaksen provided a great attacking threat on the right flank all game and was involved in both goals.

Immobile shows that class is permanent

The 2022/23 campaign was one to forget for Immobile, scoring just 14 goals in 38 competitive games, which is quite low for him considering the lofty standards he set in previous seasons.

Injuries have been a concern over the last 18 months or so, and it seemed that the Italy Men’s National Team striker was experiencing a decline in form and fitness. In this crucial clash with Celtic, he demonstrated why he has been such a great forward for Lazio.

Replacing Valentin Castellanos in the 61st minute, Immobile did not get overly involved in the play, but he knew how to get into the right positions. With eight minutes remaining in regulation time, Isaksen took a shot that got deflected, and the Italian veteran was positioned at the back post to direct the ball into the net. The second goal was better with the Danish starlet lobbing the ball into Immobile’s path, and he beat a defender before finishing clinically.

Lazio have scored just seven goals in the Champions League this season, and Ciruzzo has scored three of them. When his team needed goals against the Scottish giants, he produced some classy finishes and the Biancocelesti are through to the next round thanks to his great goal sense.

Isaksen demonstrates why Sarri should utilise him more at Lazio

Arriving from Midtjylland in the summer, Isaksen has not made much of an impact for Lazio whenever he has played in Serie A. In 10 appearances, he has not scored a goal or supplied an assist.

Aquile coach Maurizio Sarri decided to start him on the right wing against Celtic, and the 22-year-old was one of the liveliest players on the pitch, showing little fear when he had the ball at his feet. He took five shots, created four chances, and had a passing completion of 94%.

Despite his efforts, it seemed like he would go unrewarded as the score remained scoreless. Once Immobile stepped onto the pitch, Isaksen eventually played a part in both goals, and his lob to assist the second goal was superb. With Pedro showing further decline and Mattia Zaccagni, perhaps Sarri should start the Danish youngster more regularly and help develop some continuity.

Sarri should focus on going far in the Champions League and not worry too much about Serie A

Lazio players celebrate in the Champions League. [@OfficialSSLazio]

When Sarri was at Napoli, the Partenopei would be eliminated from the Champions League early, allowing them to focus on the Serie A title chase. His efforts were in vain as his Ciucciarelli sides could not break the domestic hegemony of Juventus in the 2010s.

Lazio’s start to the 2023/24 Serie A campaign has been a dismal one, currently sitting 11th in the table with 17 points, and losing six out of 13 matches. Although there is still a long way to go, European qualification for next season looks very tough.

The best Sarri has done in Europe was win the 2018/19 Europa League at Chelsea, but he has not gone beyond the Round of 16 in the Champions League. Depending on who they draw in the next round, the Aquile should place their focus on Europe and try to exceed expectations.

The second-place finish last season in Serie A already looks like a distant memory for Lazio. With little expected from them, they might as well go for broke.

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