Lazio went back to the top of Serie A as they ended a two-game losing streak by defeating Napoli 2-0 at Rome's Olympic Stadium today.
However, AC Milan can regain the Serie A lead if they beat fierce local rivals Inter Milan in the day's late match. Argentinian forward Mauro Zarate was the orchestrator of this victory against the disappointing southerners as he scored the first and created the second for Sergio Floccari.
Lazio had been the early season pace-setters until midweek when they lost for the second time in a row, allowing Milan to move a point above them. Having lost at home to Roma in their city derby last weekend and then slumped against Cesena in midweek, it seemed as if their bubble had burst. But this victory against a Napoli side who started the day in third place suggests that Lazio may have, after all, what it takes to last the pace this season.
Goalscorer Floccari said it was important to bounce back from their losses. "We have faith in our quality and we know what we're capable of," he told SkySport. "It's been a tough three days and with the midweek loss that made it a bad week for us. We knew this would be a tough game, it was a good game and my goal came at a good time.
"Napoli made us work hard but we handled the match well in the second half and finished it in the right way. Today was a good performance in terms of intensity and creativity in attack, it's always good to score but it's better that we played well."
Zarate gave the hosts the lead on the quarter hour mark when he latched onto a ball launched forward by captain Stefano Mauri and from the inside left channel the Argentinian took the ball down on his chest and fired left-footed across Morgan De Sanctis.
Napoli were a whisker away from equalising when their own Argentinian forward Ezequiel Lavezzi twisted and turned before cutting in on his right foot and curling a shot against the corner of post and crossbar just before the half hour mark.
A few moments later Zarate had another chance but his shot lacked power and De Sanctis dealt comfortably with it. De Sanctis then had to be alert to stop a deflected cross from Stephan Lichsteiner from sneaking inside his near post.
In the second period Floccari blazed over when well placed while Edinson Cavani did likewise for Napoli. But Lazio doubled their advantage on 61 minutes as Zarate pounced on a ricochet and teed up Floccari, alone 15 yards out to side-foot home almost casually with De Sanctis strangely static.
It could have been more on 67 minutes as Zarate caused problems again running at the Napoli defence but De Sanctis tipped his shot around the post. And then 12 minutes from time a Zarate shot came off Paolo Cannavaro's head and smacked against the bar with De Sanctis well beaten.
Napoli did have their chances but couldn't capitalise as substitute Jose Sosa flashed a shot just wide from the edge of the area and Cavani spooned a five-yard effort over the bar.