Lazio and Atalanta win to close in on top 4 in Serie A

Sports

MILAN (AP) — Lazio and Atalanta boosted their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League with comfortable wins over teams struggling at the other end of the Serie A table on Sunday.

Lazio eased to a 2-0 win over Sassuolo for its first victory of the new year, and Atalanta destroyed Salernitana 8-2.

Both teams moved to within three points of Inter Milan and Juventus and the final Champions League qualifying spots. Roma can join them with a win over Fiorentina later Sunday.

Lazio had started the year poorly, losing at Lecce and then conceding two goals late on to draw 2-2 against Empoli last weekend.

It lost key forward and captain Ciro Immobile in the 15th minute when he limped off with a muscular problem.

Lazio struggled to carve out goalscoring chances but was handed the opportunity to break the deadlock right at the end of the first half when Sassuolo defender Jeremy Toljan blocked Sergej Milinković-Savić’s header with an outstretched arm.

Mattia Zaccagni struck the resulting penalty into the bottom left corner.

Lazio had chances to double its lead but didn’t manage to until stoppage time when Milinković-Savić nodded on a long goal kick and Anderson caught Sassuolo defender Ruan Tressoldi napping to rush into the area and round goalkeeper Gianluca Pegolo before depositing into an empty net.

It was Sassuolo’s sixth defeat in its past seven matches and left it seven points above the relegation zone.

STUNNING GOAL

Jérémie Boga’s stunning goal set Atalanta on the way to a lopsided victory.

Boga cut inside from the left and beat three players before managing to get a shot away that was deflected in off Salernitana defender Domagoj Bradarić to give the hosts a fifth-minute lead.

Boulaye Dia leveled just five minutes later but the floodgates then opened and Atalanta was 5-1 up by halftime with Ademola Lookman’s penalty and goals from teenagers Giorgio Scalvini and Rasmus Højlund. Teun Koopmeiners also scored before the break, tucking away the rebound after his initial penalty had been saved by Guillermo Ochoa.

Both penalties were awarded for fouls by Federico Fazio on Højlund.

Lookman doubled his tally early in the second half, while Éderson and Nadir Zortea were also on the scoresheet against their former team. Hans Nicolussi Caviglia netted for Salernitana.

NZOLA’S PENALTY

M’Bala Nzola’s first-half penalty was enough to give Spezia a 1-0 win at Torino to go nine points clear of the drop zone.

Bologna fought back to win 2-1 at Udinese.

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