Lazio beats Roma 3-0 to boost Champions League chances
ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 03, 2019 08:23 AM
Lazio's Felipe Caicedo celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Roma at Rome's Olympic stadium, Italy, Saturday, March 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
By Daniella Matar, Associated Press
Lazio reignited the race for a Champions League place by ending a miserable run with a 3-0 victory over derby rival Roma in Serie A on Saturday.
Felipe Caicedo netted in the 12th minute, Ciro Immobile added a second-half penalty and fellow substitute Danilo Cataldi added a third goal as Lazio ended a run of four matches without a win in all competitions.
"It's a very important match for the standings as well as for our morale," Immobile said. "The lads have worked very well recently and we have done well even without the results that we wanted. But we have always remained focused."
Lazio remained sixth but cut the gap to its city rival to three points.
The top four in Serie A qualify for the Champions League. Roma is three points behind Inter Milan which slipped to fourth after losing 2-1 at Cagliari on Friday, the day before AC Milan beat Sassuolo 1-0.
Roma has this season's Champions League to focus on and it takes a 2-1 lead to Porto for the second leg of their round of 16 matchup on Wednesday.
"This year we're not how we should be mentally and we have to change," Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said. "Our approach wasn't positive and that determined the outcome.
"We could have come back into it at the start of the second half and it would have been a different game. I think 3-0 was too heavy a result considering how the match was overall."
Roma and Lazio were without key players. Immobile was only fit for a place on the bench while Roma's Kostas Manolas was sidelined with a stomach problem.
Manolas' absence proved significant as the Roma defense was at fault for the opening goal, backing off Joaquin Correa and allowing him to sprint forward and thread a ball through to Caicedo, who rounded the goalkeeper to score.
Roma barely threatened and Lazio doubled its lead in the 73rd minute after Correa was brought down by Federico Fazio and Immobile tucked away the spot kick.
Roma's misery was complete when defender Aleksandar Kolarov was sent off in stoppage time after picking up two yellow cards in quick succession.
Despite a below-par performance, Milan leapfrogged city rival Inter into third spot.
The only goal came 10 minutes before halftime and went down as an own goal as Sassuolo defender Pol Lirola appeared to get the final touch to a Hakan Calhanoglu corner in a crowded penalty area.
Sassuolo had a number of chances to equalize and Jeremie Boga hit the post.
However, its chances diminished when goalkeeper Andrea Consigli was sent off in the 64th after bringing down Krzysztof Piatek.
Empoli boosted its chances of avoiding relegation by fighting back to draw 3-3 against Parma.
The visitors led three times, but Empoli canceled out their advantage on each occasion, the last time with a 91st-minute equalizer.
Empoli moved four points above the relegation zone.