Lazio win talons contest

Rome side notch fourth straight win for best Serie start A as eagle mascot proves most difficult test against Cagliari.

    Floccari, left, celebrates with Stephan Lichsteiner as Lazio continue their brilliant start to the Italian season [AFP]

    Surprise Serie A leaders Lazio watched their eagle mascot fluff his lines but made no mistake in recording their fourth straight win with a 2-1 home victory over Cagliari.

    Sergio Floccari's first-half goal and a fortunate second from Stefano Mauri when the ball went in off his chest helped the Rome side to 19 points, their best-ever start in the top-flight after eight matches.

    Alessandro Matri pulled one back for Cagliari to set up a nervous finish but Lazio made sure they hung on to top spot for another week with rivals Inter Milan hosting Sampdoria later and AC Milan visiting Napoli on Monday.

    Inter and Milan are five points behind Edy Reja's collection of journeymen, who were relegation candidates last term.

    Lazio's soaring rise to the top of the table seems to have rubbed off on this term's new mascot, Olimpia the eagle, who decided to settle on the Stadio Olimpico roof rather than land on the pitch as instructed during his pre-match routine on Sunday.

    Handlers managed to get him down as the game went on with rivals now plotting how to drag Lazio back down to earth too.

    Results & fixtures

    Saturday October 23

     Fiorentina 2-1 Bari

    Sunday October 24

    Bologna 0-0 Juventus
     Chievo 2-1 Cesena
     Genoa 1-0 Catania
     Lazio 2-1 Cagliari
     Lecce 2-1 Brescia
     Parma 0-0 Roma
     Udinese 2-1 Palermo
     Inter Milan v Sampdoria

    Monday October 25

    Napoli v AC Milan

    "We suffered a lot in the second half. There was a bit of pressure and fear," Reja, whose side host Serie B's Portogruaro in the Italian Cup on Wednesday, told Sky TV.

    "But this team shows great character and determination. Obviously talk of the scudetto is wide of the mark."

    Roma falter

    Thrilled Lazio fans, who still only filled half of the Olimpico, will have even wider smiles on their faces this week after faltering city rivals Roma could also only manage 0-0 draw at bottom side Parma.

    Claudio Ranieri's Roma failed to find their spark after their shock midweek defeat by Basel in the European Champions League and the substitution of Francesco Totti at half time raised eyebrows.

    A mini-revival from fifth-placed Juventus ended when they were also held to a goalless stalemate at Bologna where substitute Vincenzo Iaquinta had a penalty saved by Italy goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano.

    The hosts felt justice had been done on 36 minutes after winger Milos Krasic went down in the area despite replays showing no contact with Daniele Portonova.

    Chievo moved up to fourth after a last-gasp 2-1 win over Cesena while Genoa went eighth with a 1-0 win over Catania and Lecce are ninth after a 2-1 comeback success downed Brescia.

    Udinese continued their pickup in form with a 2-1 home victory over inconsistent Palermo.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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