Ten-man Lazio sink Samp to boost Euro hopes
Antonio Candreva and Senad Lulic struck in either half for 10-man Lazio to secure a precious 2-0 win over Sampdoria and boost their Europa League hopes on Sunday.
Lazio coach Edy Reja said earlier this week he wouldn't bet one euro on his side finishing among Serie A's top five and claim a place in Europe's second tier club competition for next season.
However Reja's men overcame losing Lucas Biglia, who saw red for a second bookable offence on 57 minutes, to move up to provisional sixth in the table two points behind Inter Milan, who were held 2-2 by Bologna on Saturday.
Candreva gave Lazio a 42nd minute lead when he tapped home from close range after some nice dribbling by Keita Balde.
The Biancocelesti suffered a setback just before the hour when Biglia was shown a second yellow for losing the head and tripping Nenad Krsticic.
However Sampdoria, whose coach Sinisa Mihajlovic played for both sides during a colourful career in Italy's top flight, failed to capitalise.
Mihajlovic has transformed Sampdoria after taking over when the Genoese side looked to be heading for the drop zone shortly after the start of the season.
But his hopes of a third win in four games were ended on 73 minutes when Stefano Mauri pulled back for Lulic to smash the ball home from close range.
Sampdoria remain 12th, 16 points clear of the drop zone but nine behind Inter in the first Europa League qualifying spot.
Second-placed Roma are away to Cagliari on Sunday when the Giallorossi could reduce their eight-point lead on leaders Juventus, who host Livorno on Monday.
Napoli, in third nine points behind Roma, are at Parma in Sunday's late game.