ROME, October 18 – Lazio downed Bari 2-0 in Sunday night's late game to return to the top of the Serie A table as Samuel Eto'o silenced racist chants in Cagliari in Inter Milan's 1-0 victory.Goals from Brazilian Hernanes and Sergio Floccari gave the Romans the three points and kept them on top of the pile following wins for Inter and AC Milan.
Eto’o had earlier scored the only goal of the game in Sardinia to gain revenge on fans who started the game by taunting him.
Surprise package Lazio continued their positive start to the season and lead the table by two points from Milan, who top Inter on goals scored.
In a low key first half, Hernanes curled an effort wide and Andre Dias headed inches off target for Lazio, while Abdelkader Ghezzal had Bari’s best chances, forcing Fernando Muslera into a sprawling save and then firing over from a free-kick.
But on 52 minutes a speculative through ball from Stefano Mauri somehow eluded a cluster of players and fell to Brazilian Hernanes to slot between goalkeeper Jean-Francois Gillet’s legs.
And just nine minutes later, Lazio scored a second in even more bizarre circumstances as a mishit shot from Mauri hit a stumbling Floccari on the knee and looped over Gillet into the top corner.
Bari came closest 10 minutes from time when substitute Jose Ignacio Castillo’s header came back off the upright, hit Muslera, then the post again before bouncing to safety.
The earlier match in Sardinia was briefly held up after just three minutes as Eto’o seemed to suffer racist taunts from the home side’s ‘ultra’ fans.
Following a stadium announcement reminding those fans that the game could be abandoned if they continued, the match resumed with Eto’o proving the hero.
However, Cagliari coach Pierpaolo Bisoli later suggested it was a misunderstanding over the nature of the ‘boos’.
Eto’o now has 12 goals in 11 games this season but coach Rafael Benitez insists his team is not over-reliant on the hitman ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Tottenham.
"He’s in great form and that’s a good thing for us but we can score in a variety of different ways," said the Spaniard.
"Obviously the better you play, the easier it is to win but it’s important to win to give us confidence.
"We made one or two mistakes and (Cagliari) could have been dangerous.
"Now we’ll think about Tottenham. It will be tough, they have speed and ability. We’ll have to play a great match."
Inter are now level on points and goal difference with city rivals AC Milan, who beat Chievo 3-1 on Saturday, but trail them on goals scored.
Inter earned their breakthrough on 39 minutes thanks to Eto’o’s brilliance.
Alessandro Agostini failed to clear his lines properly and the ball spun into the air off Wesley Sneijder.
Eto’o plucked the ball out of the air with a piece of sublime control using his right foot, then shifted onto his left, leaving Davide Astori bamboozled, and finished crisply inside the post.
To celebrate, the Cameroon forward mocked those who had abused him by imitating a monkey.
Inter had a let-off 14 minutes from time when Robert Acquafresca’s cross deflected off Cristian Chivu and came back off the bar, with Daniele Conti able only to prod the rebound into Julio Cesar’s grateful arms.
Juventus and Palermo both moved to three points from the summit after knocking in four goals each.
Alberto Aquilani, a Felipe Melo penalty, Fabio Quagliarella and Alessandro Del Piero scored in Juve’s 4-0 defeat of Lecce sending them fifth.
Javier Pastore, Mauricio Pinilla and Slovenian pair Josip Ilicic and Armin Bacinovic netted for the Sicilians in their 4-1 success against Bologna to go sixth.
Fourth-placed Napoli missed the chance to join the Milan neighbours at the top as they drew 1-1 at Catania while Fiorentina went bottom following their 2-1 reverse at Sampdoria.