Lazio had to suffer at times on Matchday 4 of the 2023/24 Champions League group stage, but saw their efforts rewarded with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Feyenoord at the Stadio Olimpico. Captain Ciro Immobile was the hero once again with the only goal of the game.
A comprehensive defeat to the Eredivisie champions during the last round of fixtures was avenged by the Biancocelesti, who lifted themselves into second place in Group E, one point ahead of the Rotterdam-based club. With struggling Celtic next to visit the Italian capital, ahead of a trip to face Atletico Madrid, the Serie A side are in a strong position to reach the knockout rounds.
Double-Centurion Ciro Immobile still hitting the heights for Lazio
While Ciro Immobile was already out on his own as Lazio’s all-time leading scorer – 40 goals ahead of Silvio Piola – we should not underestimate the significance of reaching 200 goals for the Romans. Doing so in such circumstances perfectly encapsulated his importance to the team since arriving in July 2016.
Unlike his experience with the Italy Men’s National Team, people rarely question his contribution when he wears the Lazio shirt. With goalscoring output diminishing last term, though, some felt his impact on games would reduce as a consequence.
However, with time ticking away at the end of the first-half and the crowd growing restless, Immobile displayed brilliant movement, balance and composure, to beat the Feyenoord offside trap, round the goalkeeper and slot home the winner.
Lazio can keep clean sheets in the Champions League
The Biancocelesti had so far failed to stop their Group E opponents from scoring during their first three group games, and in each fell behind within 30 minutes of kick-off. Therefore, after suffering a crushing 3-1 defeat to the Dutch side on Matchday 3, attempting to outscore the visitors appeared to be the best strategy for Maurizio Sarri’s men.
Right from the start, though, the entire Lazio team looked in a determined mood, snapping into tackles and denying the visitors time and space on the ball. Alessio Romagnoli and Patric, in particular, excelled in their defensive duties on the night, but there was still a late moment of panic for Biancocelesti supporters.
At the same end at which Ivan Provedel netted an equaliser against Atletico Madrid in the fifth minute of stoppage time on Matchday 1, the Lazio goalkeeper made another vital contribution with a point-blank save moments before the final whistle to secure all three points.
Injuries could mean a difficult Derby della Capitale for Lazio
When Sarri withdrew Immobile on 63 minutes with the game still in the balance there were fears that the striker could have been forced from the action with an injury. Instead, it was the man who exited at the same time, Mattia Zaccagni, who was unable to continue and is now doubtful for the Rome Derby at the weekend, when they hope to leapfrog neighbours AS Roma and join the battle for European qualification places.
In addition, playmaker Luis Alberto picked up a thigh injury towards the end of the game, but after Lazio had made all of their substitutions, and had to fight his way through the closing minutes with significant strapping required to get him to full-time.
The Biancocelesti might be able to deliver another defensive masterclass against the Giallorossi at the weekend, but with so few attacking options to support an ageing Immobile or provide tactical alternatives, Sarri will have his work cut out wrestling three points from their bitter rivals.