Ciro Immobile bagged a first-half brace as Lazio swept Cagliari and new Coach Diego Lopez aside 3-0, moving within three points of leaders Napoli.
The Aquile have lost only once this season in all competition, despite missing injured Felipe Anderson, Wallace, Dusan Basta and Jordan Lukaku, and were fresh from Thursday’s 3-1 Europa League win away to Nice. They knew a victory here would put them within a point of Inter in second place. The Sardinians had lost four on the trot, which saw Coach Massimo Rastelli sacked and the return of Diego Lopez after a three-and-a-half-year gap.
Cagliari were missing both first choice goalkeepers Rafael and Alessio Cragno, so 19-year-old Milan youth academy product Luca Crosta was given his second Serie A appearance.
Lazio could’ve taken the lead within two minutes, as Luis Alberto nodded an Adam Marusic cross over the bar from close range.
Immobile ran on to a through ball and poked it beyond Crosta, so the goalkeeper grabbed his legs for an inevitable penalty. Immobile converted it powerfully for his 12th goal of the season.
It should’ve been 2-0, but Immobile was leaning back and blasted over after a Luis Alberto effort was charged down.
Cagliari had the ball in the back of the net on 21 minutes with a Diego Farias angled drive. The linesman’s flag was up, the referee over-ruled him only to change his mind and agree with his assistant after viewing VAR. It was incredibly tight, as at most Farias had a shoulder offside.
Crosta flapped at a corner and Immobile saw the finish deflected on to the side-netting at the back post. Immobile and Lazio did get their second goal just before half-time, as Marusic nodded on a cross for his precise header from six yards.
In stoppages the visitors did come close, as Joao Pedro’s free kick whistled just past the near post.
However, straight after the restart, Lazio added a third when Luis Alberto curled in a free kick for Bastos to volley in from six yards.
Bastos almost got his second on a corner, but there was no communication with Stefan de Vrij and they collided. Farias had a couple of solo attempts for Cagliari, one of which was fingertipped on to the crossbar by Thomas Strakosha, but when Leonardo Pavoletti tapped in the rebound, he was offside.
Strakosha beat away a powerful Artur Ionita effort and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic skimmed the woodwork from the edge of the area.