Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Lazio and Inter Milan kept their push for Champions League football alive on Sunday with champions Juventus and Napoli set to meet in a top of the table clash in Turin.
Ciro Immobile scored a brace as Lazio crushed Sampdoria 4-0 to return joint third with Roma who warmed up for next week’s Champions League semi-final against Liverpool with a 3-0 win at SPAL on Saturday.
Roma and Lazio both have 67 points from 34 games with Roma ahead on head-to-head clashes.
Inter Milan are just outside the Champions League places in fifth one point behind after a hard fought 2-1 win over Chievo.
Lazio dominated Sampdoria in their Stadio Olimpico with Sergej Milinkovic-Savic breaking through after 32 minutes and a Stefan de Vrij’s diving header giving the hosts a second just before the break.
Immobile tapped in a Milinkovic-Savic assist five minutes from the end, quickly adding a second to consolidate his position as leading Serie A scorer with 29 goals this season.
“We’re not in the top four by chance, we’ve earned this on the pitch,” said Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi.
“Roma and Inter are also going strong, but we’ll fight to the end and hope to leave one of them behind us.
“We’ll give our heart and soul to make it.”
Sampdoria, meanwhile, are now four points off the Europa League places with four games to play.
After being pegged back in the first half by 16th-placed Chievo, Inter’s top scorer Mauro Icardi broke through on 50 minutes — for his 26th Serie A goal this season second behind Immobile — with Ivan Perisic adding a second six minutes later.
Mariusz Stepinski pulled a goal back for Chievo who are just two points above the drop zone.
The battle for Europe could go down to the wire with Lazio hosting Inter in their final game of the season.
“I don’t know if it’ll be the key, but this team has realised it’s in the running right to the end,” said Inter coach Luciano Spalletti.
– Benevento relegated –
Atalanta moved sixth into the Europa League places with a 2-1 win over Torino at the expense of AC Milan who dropped to seventh after a 1-0 defeat at home to bottom club Benevento on Saturday.
Benevento’s relegation from Serie A was confirmed after just one year in Italy’s top flight and less than 24 hours after an impressive 1-0 win at AC Milan.
Crotone’s 2-1 victory away to Udinese on Sunday condemned Benevento to an immediate return to the second division after they were left 14 points from safety with just four matches to play.
The club based some 60 kilometres to the east of Naples began the season in disastrous fashion, losing 14 consecutive matches to break the record for the worst start to a campaign in any of Europe’s top five leagues.
The arrivals of Bacary Sagna, Sandro and giant Malian striker Cheick Diabate — who has scored seven goals in eight games — in the winter transfer window helped Benevento improve but couldn’t spare them from the inevitable drop.