Lazio down Atalanta to resurrect title hopes
Lazio laboured to a 2-0 win over Atalanta at Rome's Stadio Olimpico on Sunday to breath new life into their faltering scudetto hopes.
Brazilian Hernanes scored from the spot following a hotly disputed penalty and hot-shot Miroslav Klose sealed the win late on while Atalanta had Stefano Lucchini sent off.
Having not scored in their previous two games, including last week's humiliating 4-0 thrashing at Siena, Lazio had slipped to seven points off joint leaders AC Milan and Juventus.
They also trailed third-placed Udinese, in the final Champions League qualifying place, by five points.
But this win gives them hope of clinging onto their rivals' coat-tails ahead of the rest of the weekend's matches.
Coach Edy Reja had pulled no punches following their capitulation at Siena, describing it as the worst performance during his tenure.
At least his side proved defensively more secure in this game, although that was in no small part due to the lack of ambition both sides showed.
Lazio scored with just about the only chance of note in the first period.
Stefan Radu ran into the box and cut inside Andrea Masiello, who left his leg out hanging and the Romanian full-back needed no second invitation to fall over it.
Hernanes sent goalkeeper Andrea Consigli the wrong way from the spot.
Lazio suffered a double blow just before the break as both Hernanes, known as 'The Prophet' in these parts, and Andre Dias had to leave the field injured as half-time approached.
The second period was equally sedate until Lazio captain Tommaso Rocchi fell as he went around Lucchini.
Television replays suggested there had been no contact whatsoever but the referee still brandished a second yellow card to the Atalanta defender and the visitors were constricted to playing the remaining 35 minutes at a numerical disadvantage.
Francesco Matuzalem whipped the resulting free-kick just past the upright.
Lazio had chances to finish off the game, notably when Klose made a typical run across the backline, but his near post header couldn't beat Consigli.
Rocchi was then presented with a one-on-one opportunity from a wayward backpass but he tried to round Consigli, who got a crucial touch to put him off.
Klose finally sealed Atalanta's fate in injury time with a precise finish after a clever drag-back on the edge of the box.
On Saturday, the match between Catania and Roma was abandoned for heavy rain after 65 minutes with the scores level at 1-1.
The big game of the weekend comes on Sunday night when leaders and champions Milan host bitter rivals Inter in the derby.
Follow Emirates 24|7 on Google News.