Lazio win Atalanta rematch to close in on Champions League berths

Milan (AFP) –


Lazio hit back after their Italian Cup defeat to Atalanta with a 3-1 win on their return trip to Bergamo on Sunday, closing in on the Champions League berths.

The Roman side were eliminated from the Italian Cup in the quarter-final stage midweek with a 3-2 loss in Bergamo.

Simone Inzaghi's team gained revenge with a dominant display at the Gewiss Stadium to overtake Atalanta and move up to fifth in the league.

Lazio are nine points behind leaders AC Milan, and equal on points with fourth-placed city rivals Roma, who host Hellas Verona later on Sunday.

Atalanta are just one point behind in sixth, occupying the final European berth.

The Romans went ahead after just three minutes with Adam Marusic curling in from a distance.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic missed chances for a second, but six minutes after the break Joaquin Correa doubled the lead from a tight angle.

Ciro Immobile had a goal ruled offside before Mario Pasalic pulled a goal back for Atalanta with 10 minutes to go, sending in a rebound after Luis Muriel hit the post.

Andreas Pereira and Vedat Muriqi come off the bench after 80 minutes and the pair combined to create Lazio's third two minutes later.

Manchester United loanee Pereira sent through Muriqi who tapped in as Lazio stretched their winning run in the league to five games.

"The goal at the beginning changed the game," said Gian Piero Gasperini, the Atalanta coach, after his team fell to their first league defeat in two months.

"Lazio are a good team, we're aware that they are direct rivals we're fighting to finish ahead of."

Jeremie Boga scored deep into injury time to rescue a 1-1 draw for eighth-placed Sassuolo, who are five points off the Europa League places, at Cagliari.

The Sardinians remain in the relegation zone after stretching their winless run to 13 games.

Elsewhere, Rodrigo De Paul scored the only goal and was sent off against Spezia to end Udinese's eight-match winless run in a game both teams finished with 10 players.

Argentine De Paul broke through from the penalty spot six minutes after the break after Julian Chabot brought down Gerard Deulofeu in the area.

Former Napoli striker Fernando Llorente made his debut for the north-eastern side, coming off the bench before the hour.

The visitors played the final quarter of an hour a man down after captain De Paul was sent off for two bookings, successive fouls on Riccardo Saponara and Gennaro Acampora.

Spezia also went a man down when Saponara was sent off with five minutes to go for a second yellow cards.

Udinese move up to 13th after their first win since December 12 with Spezia dropping to 16th, four points above the relegation zone.

Genoa got back-to-back wins for the first time this season 3-0 at rock bottom Crotone, with Mattia Destro scoring twice for the port side, who are in 14th place.