Lazio strike late to down nine-man Cagliari
Lazio closed the gap on Serie A leaders Juventus to five points Saturday thanks to two late goals in a dramatic 2-1 win over nine-man Cagliari.
The Biancocelesti were kept on a level footing by the determined visitors from Sardinia in a comparatively incident-free first half.
But Vladimir Petkovic's men made their intentions far clearer in a dominant second half when Abdoulay Konko's 79th minute strike levelled Marco Sau's opener for Cagliari before a late penalty from Antonio Candreva sealed the win.
German veteran Miroslav Klose was a threat throughout the match, but saw several efforts blocked, off target or charged down.
Despite creating more chances, Lazio looked in danger of suffering a shock upset or at least having to settle for a draw.
And that feeling intensified when Sau was allowed to run free on the edge of the area just after the hour mark to beat one defender before sending a delightful angled shot past Federico Marchetti in the Lazio goal.
Petkovic immediately replaced Uruguayan midfielder Alvaro Gonzalez with Candreva, and the Italian tested Michael Agazzi in the 78th minute with a right-foot strike.
A minute later the hosts pulled level thanks to Konko's tap-in from a corner, and came close to taking the lead when Giuseppe Biava tested Agazzi with a header from Hernanes' cross.
In the 83rd minute Cagliari 'keeper Agazzi was yellow carded for time-wasting, a caution that was to prove crucial minutes later.
Lazio continued to press, and were rewarded eight minutes from time when the referee pointed to the spot after Agazzi came off his line and clashed with Klose just after the German had got an off-target lob away.
Agazzi was shown a red card, and Cagliari suffered further ignominy when midfielder Andrea Cossu was sent off for protesting.
Cagliari's second goalkeeper Vlada Avramov came on in place of Agazzi but the Serbian could not stop Candreva's penalty strike, which widened the gap on Fiorentina to four points ahead of La Viola's hosting of Pescara Sunday.
Juventus have the chance to restore their eight-point cushion when they host Sampdoria on Sunday, when Inter, in fourth nine points adrift, visit Udinese.
Fifth-placed Napoli, at 10 points off the pace, host Roma while Siena will look to cause an upset at AC Milan.
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