EL: Lazio win Salzburg thriller

Lazio were pegged back twice by plucky RB Salzburg, but Felipe Anderson and Ciro Immobile gave a 4-2 victory in the Europa League quarter-final first leg.

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Lazio were pegged back twice by plucky RB Salzburg, but Felipe Anderson and Ciro Immobile gave a 4-2 victory in the Europa League quarter-final first leg.

Follow all the action as it happens and give your views on the LIVEBLOG.

The Aquile have been flying high in the Europa League, but in this quarter-final hosted a Salzburg side that was unbeaten in the tournament and had already defeated Real Sociedad, Olympique Marseille and Borussia Dortmund. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic returned from injury, but the Austrians had South Korean striker Hee-Chan Hwang suspended.

It was a bright start from the Italians on Coach Simone Inzaghi’s birthday and after a couple of promising moves, they broke through on eight minutes. Dusan Basta was sent running down the right, his pull-back was missed by Ciro Immobile, but turned in by Senad Lulic just behind him from 12 yards.

Salzburg had kept six clean sheets in their 10 Europa League games before this and had a chance to equalise from a corner, but Stefan Lainer’s free header was poor and Marco Parolo blasted wide when snatching at a shot from 25 metres out.

Salzburg were awarded an extremely dubious penalty, as Munas Dabbur was slightly caught in the face by a flailing Basta arm as a cross sailed over them and the referee had waved play on, but the official behind the goal-line awarded the spot-kick. Valon Berisha converted to equalise, sending Thomas Strakosha the wrong way.

Moments later, Lazio were even more furious, because Immobile seemed to be dragged down by Amadou Haidara with both arms around his midriff, but there was no penalty.

Haidara’s volley flashed wide from the edge of the box on a set play, then Immobile and Milinkovic-Savic both went for the same Lucas Leiva chipped pass and collided in the box, wasting a great chance.

Milinkovic-Savic really should’ve scored just before half-time, but turned the free header wide when unmarked at the back post after wonderful work from Lulic to float in the cross.

Luis Alberto had another appeal, but in this case seemed to run into the defender rather than the other way round.

Lazio used that anger to restore their advantage straight after the restart, as Lulic won back possession and surged forward, spread the play and Luis Alberto immediately rolled it across from the right for Parolo’s sensational back-heel flick finish. It was an historic moment, the Biancocelesti’s 300th European goal.

Immobile was incorrectly flagged offside when running clear on goal moments later, while Andreas Ulmer and Luis Alberto had shots smothered in a high-tempo game.

Milinkovic-Savic performed a very risky but perfect sliding tackle on Lainer in the box and Felipe Anderson was thrown into the mix, but Parolo scuffed a promising Immobile pull-back.

Just as Lazio were pushing hard for another goal, they conceded with substitute Takumi Minamino. It was practically the Japan international’s first touch of the game, as Dabbur knocked it on and he sprung the offside trap to beat Strakosha at the near post.

They certainly didn’t lose their heads, because immediately Felipe Anderson turned on the turbo to burst between three defenders and roll the finish past the on-rushing goalkeeper.

Immobile then added a fourth within three minutes, as Lucas Leiva won back possession in midfield and held off until the last moment to roll across, allowing the striker to swing the boot and nutmeg Alexander Walke from 12 yards. It was his 37th goal in 40 competitive games for Lazio this season, seven in his last eight Europa League appearances.

Xaver Schlager and Samassekou were booked and will be suspended for the second leg. Immobile should’ve had a fifth, but his header at the back post on a Parolo cross was flapped off the line by a desperate one-handed save.

Walke missed when trying to fingertip a cross off substitute Felipe Caicedo’s head, but it bounced off his own skull to prevent another goal.

Patric went extremely close in stoppages, his angled drive flashing across the face of goal to scrape the far post.

Lazio 4-2 RB Salzburg

Lulic 8 (L), Berisha pen 30 (S), Parolo 49 (L), Minamino 71 (S), Felipe Anderson 74 (L), Immobile 77 (L)

Lazio: Strakosha; Luiz Felipe, De Vrij, Radu; Basta (Patric 65), Parolo, Leiva, Milinkovic-Savic, Lulic; Luis Alberto (Felipe Anderson 65); Immobile (Caicedo 85)

RB Salzburg: Walke; Lainer, Andre Ramalho, Caleta-Car, Ulmer; Haidara (Wolf 81), Samassekou, Schlager, Berisha; Gulbrandsen (Minamino 70), Dabbur

Ref: Hategan (ROU)

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