The Hoops left it late in Italy.

Result: Celtic hit last-gasp winner against Lazio in Rome to book knockout place

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  • 2019-11-08 04:25:10 4 months ago
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Olivier Ntcham's dramatic injury-time winner against Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico sent Celtic into the last 32 of the Europa League.

The Hoops arrived in Rome at the summit of Group E after beating the Italian side last month but amid a shaky start they fell behind in the seventh minute when striker Ciro Immobile volleyed in a cross from Manuel Lazzari.

However, Neil Lennon's side fought back and winger James Forrest deservedly levelled in the 38th minute with a terrific finish.

And in the fifth minute of added time at the end of a thrilling game, midfielder Ntcham, on for Ryan Christie, finished a counter attack to secure a 2-1 win.

The Bhoys complete the Italian Job in Rome to progress to the #UEL knockout stages! 👏🍀⚪ pic.twitter.com/Sji31ObmUH

— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) November 7, 2019

It was Celtic's first win in Italy in 13 attempts and kept them top of Group E with a guarantee of European football after Christmas.

With two fixtures remaining Celtic have 10 points with Cluj on nine, Lazio on three and Rennes on one.

This was a sporting encounter played against a background of some controversy and acrimony.

The Curva Nord section of the ground was closed after Lazio's fans were found guilty of racist chanting during the 2-1 win over Rennes in October.

Both Lazio and Celtic were charged for fans' "illicit chants" in their meeting in Glasgow, with the Scottish champions also sanctioned for "illicit banners".

James Forrest, right, drew Celtic level
James Forrest, right, drew Celtic level (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

In addition, two of the 8,000 Celtic supporters who travelled to Rome had been stabbed on Wednesday night and security was tight in and around the stadium.

Jonny Hayes, Hatem Elhamed and Christie returned to the Celtic side which was set up to match Lazio but they were pinned back early before conceding.

When Lazzari curled in a cross from deep, the ball skipped off the head of Hoops defender Christopher Jullien and Immobile, totally unmarked, took no time in thrashing the ball past keeper Fraser Forster.

Celtic had to come out their shell and they did but in the 20th minute it took a timely tackle from defender Kris Ajer to thwart Immobile when he was left with only Forster to beat after skipping easily past Elhamed.

Then, only a brilliant block by Christie prevented Immobile testing Forster with another effort.

However, Celtic's foothold in the game became stronger and they went in at the interval level after a horror mistake by Francesco Acerbi, who let Mohamed Elyounoussi's pass slip under his foot and Forrest rifled in from an angle.

While the travelling fans celebrated, Forster saved a header from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and then was bailed out when he flapped at the consequent corner, with Jullien clearing Felipe Caicedo's effort off the line.

However, it was Lazio who appeared more grateful to hear the half-time whistle and looked no more composed after the interval as a bullish Celtic side threatened to take the lead.

Lazio sent on Luis Alberto and club captain Senad Lulic for Jony and Lucas Leiva but there was little improvement.

There was a Lazio penalty claim in the 66th minute when Immobile's drive appeared to be blocked by the arm of Jullien but referee Tobias Stieler took no notice.

Play stretched further in the final stages. A corner from Alberto rebounded off the post before Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard failed to hit the target with a drive following a counter attack.

Forster made decent saves from substitute Valon Berisha, on for Denis Vavro, and Alberto before Ntcham took a pass from Edouard and chipped keeper Thomas Strakosha for the most dramatic of endings.

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Result: Celtic hit last-gasp winner against Lazio in Rome to book knockout place

Preview: Inter Milan vs. Hellas Verona - prediction, team news, lineups

Inter Milan will enter Saturday's Serie A clash with Hellas Verona knowing that a win would take them to the top of the table with leaders Juventus not in action until Sunday night.

Antonio Conte's side have collected 28 points from their 11 league outings this term to sit second, while Verona are ninth with 15 points to show from their 11 fixtures during the 2019-20 campaign.


Match preview

Inter Milan's Romelu Lukaku reacts during the match against Borussia Dortmund on November 5, 2019© Reuters

Inter's Serie A form this season has been outstanding - winning nine, drawing one and losing one of their 11 matches to sit second in the table. As mentioned, Juve are not in action until Sunday night, meaning that a victory for Conte's team against Verona would move them to the top of the division.

Back-to-back wins over Brescia and Bologna in their last two have placed them in a strong position, but Conte launched into a furious rant following his team's 3-2 loss at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.

The Milan giants actually led 2-0 at Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday night before BVB turned things around in the second half. The result has left Inter in third spot in Group F, and Conte claimed that poor planning over the summer had left him with a squad not capable of competing on all fronts this season.

January could well be a busy month for Inter in terms of incomings, but the Black and Blues are going well in the league this term. Indeed, Juve are only team to beat them, while Romelu Lukaku has proved to be an excellent signing with the Belgium international managing nine goals in 11 league outings.

It is going to take some effort to break the Juve domination in Italy, particularly when considering that Inter have not won Serie A since 2010. Conte has seemingly installed a new belief, though, and it will be fascinating to see whether they can stay in the title race heading into the final straight.

Hellas Verona's Sofyan Amrabat in action with Napoli's Kevin Malcuit in Serie A on October 19, 2019© Reuters

Promoted back to Serie A via the Serie B playoffs last season, Verona have made an encouraging start to the campaign. Indeed, a total of 15 points from 11 matches has left them in ninth position, just three points off seventh-placed Napoli heading into the next set of fixtures.

Verona actually only won one of their first six league matches of the 2019-20 campaign but have been victorious in three of their last five, including back-to-back successes over Parma and Brescia, although the win over the latter last weekend was marred by allegations of racial abuse towards Mario Balotelli.

The Yellow and Blues have lost on their last two visits to Inter in Italy's top flight, including a 3-0 defeat during the 2017-18 campaign. That said, they did manage to claim a draw at the San Siro in 2014, while they will be the fresher of the two teams having had a free week to prepare for the match.

The 1984-85 Serie A champions have really struggled for goals this season, though, managing just nine in their 11 matches; only Udinese, Sampdoria and SPAL have scored fewer at this stage, which is a concerning record heading into this weekend's clash with one of the top teams in the division.

Ivan Juric's side have been much improved in recent matches, though, and will be confident of causing Inter problems in the wake of Conte's harsh words during the week.

Inter Milan form: WLWDWW

Hellas Verona form: DWLLWW


Team News

Alexis Sanchez in action for Inter Milan on September 14, 2019© Reuters

Inter will again be without the services of Alexis Sanchez and Danilo D'Ambrosio due to ankle and toe injuries respectively, but Conte has no fresh concerns from the Dortmund clash.

Stefano Sensi is in line to start having returned from a recent lay-off, but Kwadwo Asamoah is a huge doubt with a knee problem, meaning that Cristiano Biraghi is expected to continue at wing-back.

Lukaku should again be joined by Lautaro Martinez in the final third of the field, while Nico Barella and Marcelo Brozovic are also expected to make the XI once again.

As for Verona, Daniel Bessa, Emmanuel Badu, Salvatore Bocchetti and Lubomir Tupta are all unavailable, while Koray Gunter, Marash Kumbulla and Miguel Veloso are doubts for the visitors.

Pawel Dawidowicz and Matteo Pessina could come into the starting XI having featured off the bench against Brescia, but Eddie Salcedo will be ineligible against his parent club.

Inter Milan possible starting lineup: Handanovic; Godin, De Vrij, Skriniar; Candreva, Barella, Brozovic, Sensi, Biraghi; Martinez, Lukaku

Hellas Verona possible starting lineup: Silvestri; Alan, Rrahmani, Dawidowicz; Lazovic, Amrabat, Pessina, Faraoni; Verre, Stepinski, Zaccagni


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Inter Milan 2-0 Hellas Verona

Inter will be keen to return to winning ways after their Champions League disappointment during the week, and we fancy Conte's side to record a two-goal victory in front of their own supporters on Saturday night.


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How Inter Milan could line up against Hellas Verona

Inter Milan will be looking to return to winning ways on Saturday night when they face Hellas Verona.

Antonio Conte's side suffered a 3-2 defeat at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday night, but an impressive Serie A campaign to date has left them in second spot in the table, just one point off the summit.

Leaders Juventus are not in action until Sunday night against Inter's bitter rivals AC Milan, meaning that a win for the Black and Blues against Verona would see them move to the top of the table.

Here, Sports Mole looks at how the 18-time Italian champions could line up this weekend.


POSS INT XI vs. VER

Out: Alexis Sanchez (ankle), Danilo D'Ambrosio (toe)
Doubtful: Kwadwo Asamoah (knee), Roberto Gagliardini (muscular)

Inter will again be without the services of on-loan Manchester United attacker Alexis Sanchez due to a long-term ankle injury, while defender Danilo D'Ambrosio is still out with a broken toe.

Kwadwo Asamoah is also a doubt with the knee problem that forced him to miss out against Bologna and indeed Dortmund, meaning that Cristiano Biraghi is again in line to feature at wing-back.

Stefano Sensi made his comeback from a thigh problem off the bench during the week and could now return to the starting XI, with Matias Vecino the player potentially dropping out despite his goal.

The back three and goalkeeper will remain unchanged, while Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku are expected to continue as the front two with both players in fine form this season.

Indeed, Lukaku has nine goals in 11 Serie A outings since arriving at the club, while Martinez has managed five in 11 league appearances for Conte's side during the 2019-20 campaign.

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