Immobile double shoots Lazio into top four at Salernitana

Ciro Immobile of SS Lazio after scoring a goal to make it 0-1 during the Serie A match between Salernitana and SS Lazio at Stadio Arechi on February 19, 2023 in Salerno, Italy.

Ciro Immobile struck twice as Lazio took advantage of an Atalanta slip-up with Sunday’s 2-0 win at Salernitana which moved his team provisionally into Serie A’s Champions League places.

Italy forward Immobile tapped in Lazio’s opener from Adam Marusic’s cross on the hour mark in Salerno and nine minutes later slotted home a perfect penalty after being fouled by the hosts’ goalkeeper Luigi Sepe.

Lazio moved up to fourth on 42 points thanks to Immobile’s brace, which came after his winner against Cluj in the Europa League on Thursday.

Immobile has struggled with injuries but is on eight league strikes for the season, taking his career Serie A total to 191 and eighth in the Italian top flight’s all-time scoring charts.

The 32-year-old needs another 14 strikes to draw level with Roberto Baggio.

“Ciro scored twice because he scored on Thursday. Strikers live for the goal, get down if they don’t score and fired up when they do,” said Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri.

“Our feeling in training over the last few days was that Immobile was improving physically. Thursday gave him a mental boost so now we need to get the best out of him.”

Sarri’s side were missing star midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to a stomach bug but didn’t miss the Serb in a comfortable win against a team sliding closer to the relegation zone.

Salernitana, playing their first match under new coach Paulo Sousa after sacking Davide Nicola, have won just one game since the end of October.

They are four points above Verona who sit just inside the drop zone and are at fifth-placed Roma on Sunday night.

Lazio are one point above both Roma and Atalanta, who drop down to sixth after falling to a shock 2-1 home defeat to promoted Lecce.

Assan Ceesay opened the scoring in the fourth minute in Bergamo with a thumping low strike from distance and Alexis Blin headed in the crucial second in the 74th minute.

Young gun Rasmus Hojlund pulled one back late on with his second in as many weeks to take his season’s tally to six, but Atalanta couldn’t make the most of the seven minutes of added time to snatch a point.

Luis Muriel went closest when his powerful left-footed strike was brilliantly kept out by Wladimiro Falcone, who made sure Lecce did the double over Atalanta.

“We keep conceding these early goals and if it keeps happening then it’s obviously our fault,” said Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini.

“Top teams don’t do this on a regular basis.”

Marco Baroni’s Lecce are 13th and 10 points above Verona while Atalanta are three points behind third-placed Milan, where Gasperini’s team play next weekend.

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