Title-chasing Lazio cut gap to Juve back to four points

June 29, 2020

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ROME: Fiorentina’s Frank Ribery (C) shoots to score during the Serie A match against Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico.—Reuters
ROME: Fiorentina’s Frank Ribery (C) shoots to score during the Serie A match against Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico.—Reuters

MILAN: 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 back to four points.

Immobile converted a penalty to cancel out Franck Ribery’s opener for Fiorentina before Luis Alberto struck seven minutes from time for Simone Inzaghi’s side.

Lazio’s hopes of claiming a first league title since 2000 took a hit midweek when their 21-match unbeaten run ended with a defeat at Atalanta in their first match back following the hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

And it seemed as if it was going to slide further when Ribery curled in the opener following a magnificent solo run in the 25th minute.

But Immobile, who is leading the Serie A goal-scoring charts, converted a penalty in the 67th for his 28th of the season after Fiorentina goalkeeper Bartomiej Dragowski fouled Felipe Caicedo.

Lazio snatched all three points when Luis Alberto surged forward from midfield and an attempted pass to his team-mate took a kind deflection back to him and he fired in the winner.

Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic was sent off in stoppage time for an off-the-ball incident and Lazio coach Inzaghi was also dismissed moments later.

Fiorentina stay 13th, equal on points with 14th-placed Torino, with both teams six points above the relegation zone.

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.

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. Genoa fought back from two goals down to draw at bottom-placed Brescia 2-2 and pick up a vital point in their bid to avoid relegation.

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.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2020