A late header from defender Mobido Diakite gave Lazio a much-needed victory over Cagliari, but it was harder work than expected.
The Biancocelesti were still clinging on to third place despite two consecutive defeats and an injury crisis. Miroslav Klose was ruled out for a month along with Senad Lulic, while Andre Dias, Francelino Matuzalem and Coach Edy Reja were suspended. Cagliari missed Daniele Dessena, Rui Sampaio, Moustafa El Kabir, Sebastian Eriksson and the banned Michele Canini.
It was a special moment for Federico Marchetti, who was famously frozen out for a year at Cagliari over a contract dispute.
Tommaso Rocchi sprung the offside trap to control a long Cristian Ledesma ball forward, but Lorenzo Ariaudo did just about enough to put him off.
Rocchi was given far too much space, but still couldn’t make the most of a Ledesma free kick. Libor Kozak replaced Stefano Mauri for the second half, giving Lazio some more weight in attack.
Michael Agazzi grabbed a Rocchi half-volley on the turn out of the air, while Marchetti was comfortable on a very long-range Radja Nainggolan attempt.
Emiliano Alfaro had a good chance to score his first Serie A goal when turning in the box, but the finish was too weak and central to beat Agazzi.
Lazio finally got their breakthrough in the final moments of the match, as Mobido Diakite rose to nod in a Ledesma free kick.
Marchetti needed a spectacular double reaction save to deny Albin Ekdal’s strike from the edge of the box and the Astori follow-up from point-blank range.
Moments later Antonio Candreva nearly made it 2-0, his curler thumping the crossbar.