Last-gasp Marusic heads Lazio to win over troubled Juventus

Last-gasp Marusic heads Lazio to win over troubled Juventus

March 30, 2024 at 7:25 PM
Adam Marusic (C-R) celebrates after scoring Lazio's late winner against Juventus
Adam Marusic (C-R) celebrates after scoring Lazio's late winner against Juventus. Photo: Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP
Source: AFP

Adam Marusic fired Lazio to late victory over Juventus with his stoppage-time header in Saturday's 1-0 win in Rome, as a 3-0 home humbling at the hands of Atalanta left Napoli's Champions League hopes hanging by a thread.

Marusic thumped home Matteo Guendouzi's perfect inswinging cross in the third minute of added time at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome to ensure victory in Igor Tudor's first match as Lazio coach.

The Montenegro defender's first goal of the season pushed Lazio up to seventh, a point above Napoli and eight away from the last Champions League spot currently held by Bologna.

Juve, in third, are stuck firmly in a rut after defeat in the Italian capital left them four matches without a win and sliding back towards a battle for a Champions League spot.

Massimiliano Allegri's side have picked up just seven points from their last nine matches and Saturday's performance was another in a growing list of underwhelming outings.

Juve were without suspended Dusan Vlahovic and fellow attackers Arkadiusz Milik and Filip Kostic, and lacked inspiration throughout a scrappy contest in Rome.

Lazio made life tough for Juve in Tudor's debut in the dugout after taking over from Maurizio Sarri as permanent boss at the Roman outfit.

And he pumped his fists on the touchline when Marusic decided the contest to give him the perfect start to life at Lazio.

Tudor, who won Serie A and B titles over nine years as a Juventus player, will be encouraged by the solid display put on by his team.

The former Croatia defender has a tough opening week at Lazio as his side face Juve again on Tuesday, in Turin for the first leg of their Italian Cup semi-final, before the Rome derby next weekend.

Napoli down in dumps

First-half goals from Aleksei Miranchuk and Gianluca Scamacca and a late Teun Koopmeiners strike boosted sixth-placed Atalanta's chances of a spot in Europe's top club competition.

Gianluca Scamacca was among the goals for Atalanta at Napoli
Gianluca Scamacca was among the goals for Atalanta at Napoli. Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP/File
Source: AFP

Napoli stay seventh, nine points behind Bologna who host rock-bottom Salernitana on Easter Monday.

Francesco Calzona's side are also six points behind fifth-placed Roma with the capital club at Lecce and Italy in a good position to get an extra spot in next season's revamped Champions League.

"We're not mathematically out of it but the chances of us getting there are very slim," said Calzona after his first league defeat as Napoli boss.

Both Roma and Bologna have to travel south for matches at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona before the end of the campaign, while Atalanta lurk a point behind Roma with a game in hand and the wind in their sails after a hugely impressive win.

Scamacca's low strike was his first in the league since the end of January but his third in four matches after netting in both legs of Atalanta's Europa League win over Sporting Lisbon.

The 25-year-old is hoping for a spot in Italy's Euro 2024 squad after missing out on the European champions' most recent friendlies.

"(Italy coach Luciano Spalletti) can always count on me because I always give my best... I'm more consistent now and I'm very happy, above all for Atalanta who showed faith in me," added Scamacca.

Napoli's players took the knee in support of their teammate Juan Jesus during the pre-match playing of the Serie A anthem while fans shouted "no to racism" from the stands.

Jesus and Napoli were stunned by the Italian Football Federation's disciplinary tribunal clearing Inter Milan defender Francesco Acerbi of racially abusing Jesus for lack of evidence.

AFP photo