Smalling lifts Roma as Lazio stay third in Serie A

Milan (AFP) –


Felipe Caicedo snatched a late winner to keep Lazio third in Serie A with a 2-1 victory over Sassuolo on Sunday, as England defender Chris Smalling scored and set up two other goals for city rivals Roma in a win against Brescia to move fourth.

Champions Juventus maintained their grip on the top of Serie A with a 3-1 win at Atalanta on Saturday, to stay one point ahead of Inter Milan who eased past Torino 3-0 under the rain in Turin.

The two Roman outfits are now third and fourth respectively before Cagliari, a point behind in fifth, play at lowly Lecce on Monday after their game Sunday was washed out.

"It's an important success," said Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi.

"Third place consolidated? It's still early, we are there and the others too, every day things can change."

Serie A top-scorer Ciro Immobile struck to put Lazio ahead on 34 minutes with his 15th league goal this season.

But struggling Sassuolo pulled a goal back through Francesco Caputo just before the break.

Ecuadorian Caicedo came off the bench to seal a fifth consecutive league win in injury time to keep Lazio seven points behind Inter Milan in third place.

Roma are now two points behind their local rivals after Smalling sparked their 3-0 win over bottom club Brescia.

Smalling, on loan from Manchester United, headed in the first from a corner in the 48th minute at the Stadio Olimpico.

The 30-year-old then provided the cross that allowed fellow defender Gianluca Mancini to volley in eight minutes later, with Edin Dzeko completing the rout on 66 minutes after Smalling's headed assist.

"Long may this continue," said Smalling. "Because we've got some big ambitions this season and we need to keep improving each game.

"I'm enjoying my football and I think the team, as you can see, is enjoying our football too. We need to keep going because there is a long way to go yet."

Roma coach Paulo Fonseca praised the former Fulham player after his second league goal this season and hinted he might remain beyond this season.

"He's fine here, he's a very nice player and I think he wants to stay with us," said the Portuguese coach.

- Lecce washout -

Brescia, now coached by 2006 World Cup winner Fabio Grosso, remain rooted to the bottom of the table.

Italy forward Mario Balotelli was dropped for Sunday's game because of his lack of commitment in training.

And Grosso insisted he would not take back the 29-year-old back until he changed his attitude as the promoted side fight for top-flight survival.

"Mario can be a protagonist in this team if he has the will, the determination and the enthusiasm, which he has so often lacked," said Grosso.

"When you are at the bottom of the table like us you need more than a player who knows how to hit the ball hard and score when he can.

"We need someone ready to work for the team, fight hard for the 90 minutes."

Samuel Di Carmine scored the only goal as Verona piled the pressure on Fiorentina, despite Franck Ribery returning after his three-match suspension.

The Tuscany side are in 10th place with just one point from their last three games.

Claudio Ranieri's Sampdoria moved out of the relegation zone with a 2-1 comeback win over 10-man Udinese.

A Manolo Gabbiadini free-kick before the break and a 75th-minute Gaston Ramirez penalty gave the Genoa side their third win of the season.

Ilija Nestorovski had put Udinese ahead before the half hour but the north-easterners played the final 40 minutes a man down after Jakub Jankto was sent off for a second yellow card.

Sampdoria move up to 16th, three points above the relegation zone, with Udinese just two points ahead in 13th.

Sunday's late match between Lecce and Cagliari was postponed because of heavy rain in the heel of Italy.

The match will now be played on Monday at 1400GMT, although weather forecasts remain poor for the Puglia region.