Ciro Immobile scored early against his former club Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday as Lazio marked their return to the Champions League after a 13-year absence with a 3-1 Group F win.
Italy’s Immobile beat Marwin Hitz in the Dortmund goal after six minutes in Rome, with a deflection off the Germans’ keeper responsible for the hosts’ second goal.
Norway star Erling Braut Haaland pulled a goal back after 71 minutes but Immobile set up Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro for the third five minutes later in front of a crowd of 1,000 at the Stadio Olimpico.
It was a welcome boost for Simone Inzaghi’s side who are now top in a group which also includes Zenit and Club Brugge.
“It was an incredible emotion to bring this club and this shirt back to the Champions League,” said Immobile, last season’s Serie A top scorer with 36 goals.
The capital city club have experienced a stuttering start to their league season with just one win in four games, and a 3-0 defeat to Sampdoria last weekend.
“There was an extra flavour and we are satisfied because the match was played to perfection,” continued Immobile.
“We met a strong team, it was a difficult match but we needed a game like this to give us a psychological boost after the game against Sampdoria, to be able to have our say among the great in Europe and also in the league.”
Immobile and Joaquin Correa started up front with Hitz replacing Roman Buerki in the Dortmund goal and Haaland leading the Bundesliga outfit’s attack.
Luiz Felipe returned for Lazio after a month out with an ankle problem, with Emre Can suspended for the away side.
Lazio pounced on their first chance with Thomas Meunier losing the ball to Lucas Leiva who crossed for Correa to serve up Immobile for his fifth Champions League goal and first since playing for Dortmund in December 2014.
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Thomas Strakosha stuck out his leg to block Raphael Guerreiro in Dortmund’s first chance after 21 minutes.
But Inzaghi’s men doubled their lead in the 23rd minute when Luis Alberto’s corner was deflected in off Hitz’s head.
Haaland revived hopes of a German fightback, only for Luis Alberto to send through for Immobile to lay it on for Akpa Akpro for the third goal.
“”We didn’t have patience, we were frantic. We played badly and never managed the ball,” said Dortmund coach Lucien Favre.
For Immobile, who has been under fire for his recent performances with the Italian national team, the victory was sweet, even more so as it was against a team he had an unsuccessful spell with back in 2014.
“Did they say I was Dortmund’s worst signing? I arrived at Dortmund at the wrong time, during a generational change,” said Immobile.
“There were some difficulties, but I don’t want to say anything about this. I know when I deserve praise or criticism.
“I missed a goal tonight, I will miss more, but I hope to score many more than I miss for Lazio and the national side.”