Lazio star Ciro Immobile says he hopes his side won’t be drawn against Liverpool or Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League.
The striker netted from the spot in a 2-2 home draw against Club Brugge of Belgium on Tuesday night.
That was enough to see them finish second in the group on 10 points. They finished three behind winners Borussia Dortmund.
But it ensured that Lazio qualified for the knockout phase for the first time in over 20 years.
However, as runners-up, it means they will be drawn against a group winner in the last 16.
And that brings into play the two sides who have lifted this trophy in the last two seasons.
Current champions Bayern Munich and 2019 winners Liverpool play their sixth and final matches on Wednesday night. But the two European giants have already done enough in the first five games to ensure they can’t be caught at the top.
Bayern have four wins and a draw, while Liverpool have won four and lost one.
Italy frontman Immobile has been one of Lazio’s standout stars in the group phase.
His 27th-minute penalty against Club Brugge was his fifth goal in just four matches.
“We are proud of what we did. We suffered a bit at the end of the game, but they suffered too,” Immobile told Sky Sport (via Football Italia).
“We remained united even if there were many important players out of action. We did something extraordinary.
“We are a surprise because we have been missing for so long in the Champions League. We have given everything. We put enthusiasm, from the coach to the club, we know the fans suffered from home with us and we are proud of what we did.
“Tonight it was difficult, they are an important team.
“Now we wait for the draw and hope not to be drawn with prohibitive teams such as Bayern or Liverpool. We have enthusiasm, we enjoy playing. The important thing is to gain experience in this competition.”
Inzaghi shares Immobile’s feelings of pride
Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi was also delighted to come through the group.
He said: “We had a good game tonight, we’re happy to progress and give this joy to our fans. We are proud of this achievement.
“It’s hard to realise what we managed. We returned to the UEFA Champions League group stage after 13 years and now after 21 in the knockout stage.
“We deserved to qualify, we are unbeaten, we deserve to be in the best 16 in Europe.”
If Lazio do draw Liverpool in the last 16, the Reds may have some extra incentive.
Inzaghi’s brother, Filippo, scored both goals in AC Milan‘s 2-1 victory over the Reds in the 2007 Champions League final.