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Dublin: 17 °C Wednesday 5 August, 2020

Ciro Immobile embarrassed high-spending AC Milan with a blistering ten minute hat-trick

AC Milan have much to learn if they want to become realistic title challengers in Serie A this season.

The Italy international scored his first hat-trick since 2014 on Sunday.
The Italy international scored his first hat-trick since 2014 on Sunday.
Image: Alessandra Tarantino

NOT SINCE THE magnificent days of Andriy Shevchenko had a hat-trick been scored in a game between Lazio and AC Milan.

But on Sunday evening Ciro Immobile repeated the Ukrainian’s 1999 feat and embarrassed the Rossoneri with an electric three goal masterclass.

Milan have been tipped by certain quarters to pose a title challenge to Juventus this season, with many citing the transfer of defender Leonardo Bonucci as the catalyst which will prove the difference, just as Andrea Pirlo had done in 2011/12.

And while Milan had gotten off to the perfect start with back-to-back wins against Crotone and Cagliari, they were made to look rather ordinary by a Lazio side in full flow at the Stadio Olimpico, losing out 4-1 despite a Riccardo Montolivo consolation.

The result was surprising not only due to Immobile’s ten-minute hat-trick. But also due to the expectation pinned to the ‘new era’ dawning at the San Siro after the club was bought by Chinese investors for €740 million earlier this year.

Italy Soccer Serie A Leonardo Bonucci and team-mates react following a Ciro Immobile goal. Source: Alessandra Tarantino

Milan spent big during the summer with the acquisitions of players like Andre Silva, Andrea Conti, Hakan Calhanoglu, Mateo Musacchio, Ricardo Rodriguez, Lucas Biglia and the aforementioned Bonucci, who was made club captain, totaling over €200 million.

But with goals after 38, 42 and 48 minutes from Immobile, including a penalty, Milan were dumbfounded, 3-0 down and edging towards a first defeat of the season — their unbeaten start to the campaign in tatters.

Immobile is hitting his true form once again having seemed to lose his way following a dismal year at Borussia Dortmund three seasons ago, where he managed just three Bundesliga goals.

In fact, prior to last season Immobile had recorded just 10 goals in his previous two campaigns, after which he returned to Serie A permanently in 2016 and scored a whopping 23 goals in 35 starts last season.

“Not many teams will get four goals against Milan,” he said after the final whistle on Sunday.

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Italy: Juventus FC v SS Lazio - TIM Cup Final Immobile scored 23 goals in Serie A last season. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Immobile also got the assist for his side’s fourth — setting up Luis Alberto — with Lazio now a point above high-spending Milan, who were injected with a dose of reality with the heavy defeat.

In one ten minute period of inspired genius they learned that money cannot always buy success immediately, and that there can be no quick-fix to the often comical era which has catastrophically plagued the former European giant over the last number of seasons.

They are trying to re-establish themselves as a superpower, but will find it difficult to mount a title challenge even with the presence of Bonucci, argued by many as the best central defender in the world at present.

“We didn’t have the mental strength to fight back,” Milan manager Vincenzo Montella said afterwards. “What we learned today is that we are still a way off being complete and in Italian football, you can’t get away with anything.”

In 1999 during his debut season Andriy Shevchenko scored a hat-trick at the Stadio Olimpico, which featured a cooly taken penalty against Lazio.

Eighteen years later — with Rossoneri fans watching in agony, pining for the harlequin days of the Ukrainian, when Milan competed for titles and toasted yearly Champions League football at San Siro — Ciro Immobile replicated the feat.

“We need to improve in our finer details,” said captain Bonucci afterwards. “We should treat this defeat as a healthy slap in the face for everyone.”

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Aaron Gallagher

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