Lazio lost 3-1 to Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo in Matchday 38 of the 2019/20 Serie A. The final match of the season, this game will live on in Biancocelesti history for being the time when Ciro Immobile scored his Serie A single-season record-tying 36th goal.
The excellent pressing from Napoli and the unorganized defense from Lazio meant the Azzurri started out on the front foot. The front three of Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens, and Jose Callejon were out in full force, and in the 9th minute, a Mertens pass to midfield maestro Fabian Ruiz resulted in a wonderful goal for the Spaniard outside the box.
The strike took a perfect deflection off Luiz Felipe and into the top left of the net past Thomas Strakosha. However, the Lazio defense was too spread out and gave Fabian Ruiz too much space, making it easy for him to get off a shot. In the first 20 minutes, Napoli would have two more good opportunities at the expense of a sloppy Lazio defense, but both attempts would go wide.
A lot of fans were happy to see Adam Marusic starting over Jony for the final match, and he proved Simone Inzaghi’s selection to be the right one, starting an attack and providing a wonderful assist for Ciro Immobile, who scored a close-range goal. The strike was Immobile’s 36th of the season, tying Gonzalo Higuain for the top single-season goal scorer in Serie A history. With that goal, the match would be tied at 1-1, and despite a few halfhearted attempts, the first half would end with both sides level.
While a close-range attempt from Dries Mertens would go wide, a clumsy and late slide from captain Marco Parolo sent the Belgian striker to the ground and gave Napoli a penalty. Insigne would send Lazio goalkeeper Strakosha the wrong way and put Napoli on top 2-1 in the 54th minute.
A few minutes later, Lazio almost had another equalizing goal, as Joaquin Correa dribbled past a line of Napoli defenders, despite a bad angle close to the touchline, his shot just barely missed, hitting the crossbar and going out of bounds.
Over the subsequent minutes, Lazio were unable to get anything going in attack, as Napoli sat back protecting their lead. Other than a Joaquin Correa shot and a halfhearted long-range Sergej Milinkovic-Savic free-kick, the Biancocelesti could not do a whole lot. Furthermore, the Napoli defense had Immobile on lockdown, making it difficult for him to get his record-breaking goal.
The strong Napoli press made it difficult for Lazio to get any sort of composure on the ball, and it was that press in their own half that led to a fluid goal for Matteo Politano, ending the match in a 3-1 victory for Napoli, and putting Lazio’s final place in the table at 4th.
With all of the ups and downs, through an earth-shattering pandemic and a legendary run of form, Lazio’s season was a great one, regardless of how it ended.
Entering March, most Laziali would have been secure in the belief that the Scudetto was going back to the blue side of Rome, and the fourth place feels like a far cry from that, but regardless this season has far exceeded expectations.
Lazio will be playing in the Champions League barring some miracle European Cup run from both Napoli and Roma. The final point total of 78 is the most in Lazio history, and last but certainly not least, Ciro Immobile is the joint top single-season Serie A of all time.
Immobile’s goal was an incredible cap to an incredible season. It was quite the bounce-back campaign from a 2018/19 season that saw Immobile go nearly half a season without scoring from the run of play. The Capocannoniere and European Golden Boot are well deserved for Immobile.