Lazio Crush Milan to Thrust Rossoneri Out of Champions League Zone

Lazio’s pride stole the spotlight at the Stadio Olimpico on Monday night as Simone Inzaghi’s Biancocelesti devoured a helpless Milan side in one bite. They are now five points from a Champions League qualification, with one game still in hand.

Should Lazio beat Torino on May 18 in their catch-up game, they will find themselves fully back in contention for a place into the top European competition next season. Tonight’s 3-0 win, powered by a Joaquin Correa brace and embellished by a Ciro Immobile gem, will give them a good boost of confidence – just what they needed after succumbing to Napoli this past week.

Milan, on the other hand, are a team on the verge of collapsing. Their second loss in a row made them suddenly plummet to the fifth place in the table – two points behind Atalanta and evenly-placed with Juventus and Napoli who have a better goal difference than the Rossoneri. A Champions League spot that seemed granted only a few months ago is now seriously at risk. Their trip to the Stadio Olimpico was an absolute disaster.

Stefano Pioli has much to do as he prepares for the last five games – where the Rossoneri must face, among others, direct contenders Juventus and Atalanta. What he saw tonight will probably give him a few sleepless nights.

Still, Milan seemed to be off to a good start as Mario Mandzukic (who collected his first cap as a starter) released Hakan Calhanoglu for the first shot of the game after just 20 seconds. Lazio’s reaction, however, was lethal. Ismael Bennacer appeared a bit too hesitant to clear the ball from the midfield line and Ciro Immobile took advantage of it, serving Joaquin Correa the chance for a swift counterattack. 

The Argentine did all well, sneaking past the Rossoneri defense and rounding Gianluigi Donnarumma to deposit the ball home and draw first blood.

The Diavolo was stunned and Lazio tried to take advantage of it. Ciro Immobile tested Donnarumma’s reflexes and found that he is still alert despite the insisting rumors about his contract renewal.

Lazio were in control for the initial 20 minutes, then the Rossoneri slowly regained composure – though Pepe Reina had no major reason for concern. Mandzukic is no Ibrahimovic and in any case the Croat found little assistance from his offensive teammates.

Milan’s best chance happened around the half hour mark as a combination between Franck Kessié and Alexis Saelemaekers released Calhanoglu again. The Turk had acres of space but was slow to react, moved too wide, and had his shot easily blocked by Reina.

Milan were spared additional woes just before the half time break as the VAR cancelled a Manuel Lazzari winning effort. Disaster struck for Milan in the form of another breakaway as the Rossoneri lost the ball in midfield and Correa ignited the no. 29’s counterattack.

Lazzari had all the time in the word to look at Donnarumma straight in his eyes before piercing him for Lazio’s second as the Rossoneri defense scrambled to chase him. Too bad for the Biancocelesti that he was just one inch offside when he caught Correa’s pass.

Milan breathed a huge sigh of relief and a good combination between Saelemaekers and Mandzukic just before the break showed that they were still alive. Apparently.

Pioli and his boys had not learned their lesson, however, as five minutes after the restart they conceded the second. Joaquin Correa bagged his brace after besting his marker Fikayo Tomori and beating Donnarumma to the near post. It all seemed too easy. 

The Rossoneri coach frantically reshaped his lineup by substituting five players in the space of ten minutes. Between the 62nd and the 72nd minute, Brahim Diaz, Rafael Leao, Diogo Dalot, Sandro Tonali and Alessio Romagnoli all made their entrance to the pitch.

The only effect, however, was getting even more exposed to Lazio’s fast breaks. Ciro Immobile’s effort on 79 minutes surely deserved a winning outcome but his brilliant lob shot crashed into the right post to deny him a joy.

But Immobile’s joy was only delayed by a few minutes. The former Golden Boot found the back of the net with three minutes to go, making the best out of a Lazzari service with an accurate arrow finish that left no chance to the poor Rossoneri goalie.

Milan were nowhere to be seen and the final whistle was an act of mercy on the part of referee Daniele Orsato. They will need to work very hard to cling onto that Champions League spot and, from tonight, they have one more rival to be afraid of: Simone Inzaghi’s reborn Biancocelesti.



April 26, 2021 – Serie A 2020-21 Round 33

SCORERS: 2′ Correa, 50′ Correa, 87′ Immobile

LAZIO (3-5-2): Reina; Marusic, Acerbi, Radu; Lazzari, Milinkovic-Savic, Lucas Leiva (88′ Cataldi), Luis Alberto (88′ Akpa Akpro), Lulic (66′ Fares); Immobile (88′ Muriqi), Correa (75′ A. Pereira) (Strakosha, Alia, Patric, Musacchio, Hoedt, Parolo) Coach: S. Inzaghi
MILAN (4-2-3-1): G. Donnarumma; Calabria (69′ Diogo Dalot), Kjaer (72′ Romagnoli), Tomori, Hernandez; Bennacer (69′ Tonali), Kessié; Saelemaekers (62′ Brahim Diaz), Calhanoglu, Rebic; Mandzukic (62′ Rafael Leao) (Tatarusanu, Kalulu, Hauge, Gabbia, Krunic, Castillejo, Meité) Coach: Pioli

REFEREE: Mr. Orsato from Schio
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Acerbi, Milinkovic-Savic (L); Extra Time: 1st Half 1′, 2nd Half 3′