ROME, September 27 – Lazio joined reigning champions Inter Milan at the top of Serie A on Sunday after a second-half goal from Argentine striker Mauro Zarate brought a 1-0 win at fellow high-riders Chievo.Zarate, who had a spell in the English Premier League with Birmingham, ought to have calmed the visitors’ nerves prior to his neat low finish past keeper Stefano Sorrentino with a brace but missed a simpler early chance from point blank range.
Chievo had been looking for a win which would have taken them top after winning three of their opening four games – but Zarate instead ensured that Lazio moved onto ten points from four games, level with Inter after the latter’s 1-0 loss Saturday to Roma.
Chievo stay third, a point off the pace, as do promoted Brescia, whose own hopes of snatching top spot were dashed by a 2-1 reverse at Bari, Emanuel Rivas and a penalty from Brazilian Barreto cancelling out a Panagiotis Kone strike.
Much of the weekend talk centred on contrasting fortunes on Saturday for the two Milan clubs as Rafa Benitez’s champions and Champions League holders Inter slumped to a stoppage time header from Mirko Vucinic who gave Roma their first win of the season in dramatic fashion.
"It can happen that you concede a late goal but we just didn’t play with enough intensity," opined Benitez, while Inter defender Maicon added: "Three points were there for the taking but the way we played we didn’t deserve one."
Not everyone in the Roma camp was happy as skipper Francesco Totti was visibly angered at giving way to Vucinic and left the ground early.
Coach Claudio Ranieri preferred to gloss over that fact.
"Totti fought like a lion out there. Totti will see that the essential thing was to beat Inter. We are now on the right road," said the former Chelsea boss.
AC Milan meanwhile moved to within two points of the top after new arrival from Barcelona and former Inter favourite Zlatan Ibrahimovic settled Saturday’s game at the San Siro against Genoa with a delightful 49th-minute chip, following on from his goal in Wednesday’s draw at Lazio.
"Milan are not all about one player," said the Swede modestly afterwards, while insisting that "if we work hard we can be top come season’s end."
Juventus, coming off a dreadful home loss to Palermo, moved into midtable in Sunday’s late match after a hat-trick from Milos Krasic gave them an exciting 4-2 home success over Cagliari, a result which took the Old Lady into midtable after having taken only four points from their opening four games.
Serbian playmaker Krasic, signed from CSKA Moscow in the summer, was on fire with goals in the 13th – a piledriver past keeper Michael Agazzi – 34th and 70th minutes while Leonardo Bonucci also hit the target for the hosts.
Alessandro Matri hit a brace for Cagliari as Juve warmed up in style for their midweek Europa League meeting with big spenders Manchester City, coached by former Inter Milan boss Roberto Mancini.
In other Sunday action, Fiorentina won 2-0 against Parma to win for the first time in the league this season while Udinese managed their first point of the campaign with a goalless draw at Sampdoria but remain bottom.