AC Milan flop Alessandro Matri offers rich rewards to Serie A rivals Lazio

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On-loan Lazio striker Alessandro Matri hit a double on debut to highlight his goalscoring abilities once again, despite the persistent scepticism of owners AC Milan.

Italian international forward Matri has bounced around from club to club since returning to his first professional team AC Milan for a second stint in 2013.

That big-money switch from Juventus failed to work out, with the physical centre-forward notching just once in 15 Serie A appearances.


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And so began the merry-go-round nature of numerous temporary stays at Fiorentina, Genoa and old employers Juve.

He hit four goals in 15 league outings during five months with the Viola, and that was followed up by another seven from 16 at the Grifone, which came from another near half-year spell until January 2015.

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Matri’s red-hot form at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris then prompted leaders Juventus to bring him back to Turin until the end of the 2014-15 campaign.

Unfortunately, there were very few opportunities to feature, but he did manage to score the winning goal in a glorious Coppa Italia final against the Roman outfit he would later join.

His extra-time strike ensured a domestic double for the dominant Bianconeri before Matri was shipped off back to Milan without any hope of first-team involvement.

Therefore, it must have been a great relief to him when Lazio, who’d lost out to the Old Lady in the aforementioned Coppa Italia showpiece, came calling for his services.

It had been a sticky start to proceedings for the Aquile, despite an opening day league victory over newly-promoted Bologna.

The Biancocelesti were subsequently dumped out of the Champions League in a two-legged play-off tie against Bayer Leverkusen, before succumbing to a 4-0 loss at Chievo in arguably their worst domestic performance for six months.

That insipid showing at the Stadio Bentegodi brought about the arrival of Matri, who’d been sat twiddling his thumbs on the Rossoneri bench.

An international break delayed his debut, but it was worth the wait when the colossus was sent on for the last 34 minutes of a contest between Lazio and Udinese that previously had nil-nil written all over it.

Matri struck an opener from close range just eight minutes after his introduction, latching on to a neat low cross from fellow substitute Felipe Anderson.

If his first effort could be described as relatively simple, his second was sublime. The imposing forward showed great control in the area with his back to goal, then turned elegantly to rifle home beyond helpless goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis.

Udinese’s defence failed to deal with the rebound following a Karnezis save, and once it came within Matri’s reach, there was only going to be one outcome.

People often label the Lombardy native as a typical target-man, incapable of the kind grace and touch displayed in the movement that confirmed his double haul.

But, the 31-year-old showed quick reactions to latch on to the ball initially, prior to a spin and half-volleyed finish that any striker would’ve been proud of.

Despite undertaking a constant gun-for-hire role, without the feeling of being appreciated or wanted at the club who shelled out €11 million for his signature just two years ago, Matri has continued to prove his value everywhere he has been.

Whether appearing as a sub or starter, he always works incredibly hard, ruffles opponents’ feathers and holds the ball up effectively. Plus, he also possesses a clever footballing brain that many observers don’t give him credit for.

Perhaps the likes of AC Milan and Juventus, who’ve won only one Serie A fixture out of six between them so far, believe they can do without his abundant attributes.

Instead, it’ll be Lazio coach Stefano Pioli who’ll benefit handsomely from having a classy number nine at his disposal. Furthermore, Matri might just be the difference between mediocrity and success for the capital club this term.

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