Milan (AFP) – Ciro Immobile and Luis Alberto got title-chasing Lazio back winning 2-1 against Fiorentina on Saturday to close the gap on Serie A leaders Juventus to four points.
Lazio’s 21-match unbeaten run ended with a 3-2 defeat at Atalanta on Wednesday, after surrendering a two-goal lead.
But Simone Inzaghi’s side consolidated second position, behind the eight-time reigning champions, who had dominated Lecce 4-0 in Turin on Friday.
“The lads know the stakes are high,” said Inzaghi as Lazio target a first Serie A title in two decades.
“It’s a victory of character and determination. We have a limited squad at the moment with several injuries.”
Inzaghi’s side trailed early on their return to the Stadio Olimpico nearly four months after the start of the coronavirus lockdown with Fiorentina’s French veteran Franck Ribery putting the visitors ahead on 25 minutes.
The 37-year-old former Bayern Munich star showed incredible skill playing just his second match since returning from a right ankle injury last November.
Ribery cut through the Lazio defence, leaving Marco Parolo and Patric rooted, working his way past Francesco Acerbi to beat keeper Thomas Strakosha.
A minute later Fiorentina keeper Bartłomiej Drągowski denied a Parolo header from close range while Felipe Caicedo sent the ball over the bar.
Lazio shifted gear in the second half but had to wait until the 67th minute to get back on level terms with a penalty awarded for a Dragowski foul on Caicedo.
Serie A top scorer Immobile stepped up to slot in his 28th league goal this season, five more than Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Luis Alberto’s low effort sealed the win seven minutes from time.
The game ended amid confusion as Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic was sent off in injury time for pushing Patric, with Inzaghi also given a red card for arguing.
Fiorentina stay 13th, equal on points with 14th-placed Torino, with both teams six points above the relegation zone.
– ‘Important win’ –
Earlier Cagliari kept their Europa League hopes alive with a 4-2 victory over Torino.
Cagliari had been on a run of four consecutive defeats until former Italy international goalkeeper Walter Zenga took over before the coronavirus lockdown in early March.
After beating SPAL on their return, Zenga’s side clinched back-to-back wins and their first victory over Torino in nearly seven years.
“It’s an important victory,” said Zenga after his first victory at the Sardegna Arena.
“The players are starting to have fun again.”
Uruguayan international Nahitan Nandez opened the scoring after 12 minutes for the hosts with Charalampos Lykogiannis setting up Giovanni Simeone to tap in a second, confirmed after a VAR review six minutes later.
Immediately after the break, Belgian star Radja Nainggolan broke through, rifling in an impressive third from outside the penalty area.
Torino hit back with goals from Brazilian Bremer on the hour mark and captain Andrea Belotti off a corner on 66 minutes.
But Joao Pedro restored Cagliari’s two-goal cushion from the penalty spot after Nicolas Nkoulou fouled Luca Pellegrini.
The Sardinians are now tenth — four points off the Europa League berths — and level on points with ninth-placed Hellas Verona.
Basement club Brescia look destined for a return to Serie B after throwing away a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw against relegation-rivals Genoa.
Alfredo Donnarumma scored for the hosts after ten minutes, with Alessandro Semprini getting his first Serie A goal three minutes later.
But Genoa hit back with a pair of penalties, the first earned after Cristian Romero was fouled by Brescia teenager Andrea Papetti.
Iago Falque stepped up to slot in on 38 minutes, with Andrea Pinamonti converting the second on 69 minutes following a handball.
Genoa move one point clear of the relegation zone, ahead of Lecce.
Brescia stay bottom with 18 points from 28 games, eight points from safety.