Novara edge Lazio to retain safety lifeline
Novara maintained hope of staying in Serie A with a narrow win over Lazio this afternoon, and complicated I Biancoceleste's push for a UEFA Champions League spot in the process.
An own-goal from Mobido Diakite put Novara in front against the run of play in the 35th minute, but Antonio Candreva replied immediately.
As Lazio pushed for a winner, former Napoli striker Giuseppe Mascara did his ex-club a favour with a winner for the Piedmontese side, who cannot now be mathematically relegated until at least the weekend.
Lazio showed little sign of sympathy as they set about obtaining a win which could have sent Novara into Serie B. They attacked with intent, but the goal they eventually scored in the 35th minute was at the wrong end. Diakite tried to clear a cross, but only succeeded in diverting the ball into his own goal off the back of his foot.
Lazio's response was immediate, though, with Stefano Mauri's shot only parried by Alberto Fontana and Candreva followed up to head the ball over the line from close range.
Edy Reja's side maintained a steady assault on the Novara goal, but the ball just did not seem to want to go in. Libor Kozak and Lorik Cana missed the best chances, with the latter sending a free header wide of the post in the last minute of the first half.
There was little change to the flow of the game in the second period either with Lazio searching for a winner which they thought they had found in the 65th minute when Kozak scored, but the goal was eventually ruled out for offside after the referee and linesman consulted and realised that the ball had come to Kozak from his team-mate Diakite.
Mascara then stunned the visitors and sent the home fans into raptures with an unstoppable free-kick which went in off the inside of the post.
Lazio wasted even more chances to level, but Novara held on for a crucial victory.