Rome, Dec 12: Lazio launched itself back into the Serie A title hunt with a 3-2 win at last-place Lecce on Saturday, and Inter Milan swept its struggles aside with a 2-0 victory over Fiorentina.
Germany standout Miroslav Klose scored twice and set up another goal for Lazio, while Italy forward Giampaolo Pazzini and Japan fullback Yuto Nagatomo were on target for Inter.
Lazio moved provisionally second, within one point of Serie A leader Juventus and one point ahead of AC Milan and Udinese.
Milan visits Bologna and Udinese hosts Chievo Verona on Sunday, while Juventus plays at Roma on Monday.
Inter—which had lost at home to Udinese and CSKA Moscow over the past week—moved level with Cagliari, Roma and Catania in eighth, 12 points back.
Also on Saturday, Genoa won 2-0 at Siena with second-half goals from Marco Rossi and Rodrigo Palacio, and Adrian Mutu scored as Cesena edged 10-man Palermo 1-0 in Sicily.
Playing its first match under new manager Serse Cosmi, Lecce took the lead from a penalty by David Di Michele in the 12th minute, and Klose then responded by scoring from within the box in the 28th and setting up a goal for Albanian midfielder Lorik Cana in the 48th.
Stefano Ferrario equalized for Lecce with a header in the 59th as Lazio's defense lacked order, but Klose restored the Roman club's lead by heading in a cross from Djibril Cisse in the 87th.
Klose has eight goals in 14 league matches since transferring from Bayern Munich, dispelling any thoughts that the 33-year-old striker has reached the twilight of his career.
“We know how strong Klose is and if he's left alone even for an instant inside the area he punishes you,” Lazio coach Edy Reja said. “We certainly had trouble today, but we were blessed with fortune. Lecce deserved at least a draw. ... We got the three points thanks to our strikers.”
Lazio goalkeeper Federico Marchetti had to exit midway through the second half with a right leg muscle pull, possibly ruling him out for up to a month.
At the San Siro, Pazzini used one sublime touch from a sharp angle to redirect a long pass from Coutinho past Fiorentina goalkeeper Artur Boruc in the 41st.
Last week, Pazzini slipped and fired a penalty over the bar in the loss to Udinese, but he can put that painful memory behind him now.
Nagatomo's goal involved a bit of good fortune, as he ran into a failed clearing attempt by defender Manuel Pasqual and the ball bounced in off his chest. It was Nagatomo's third goal since joining Inter in January.
Inter manager Claudio Ranieri refused to speculate if this victory might mark a turnaround for his squad.
“Let's not talk about a turnaround. We've already used that word too many times lately,” he said. “But it was a great performance, and the fans were magnificent. They encouraged the squad from the opening minutes.”
Inter was helped by the return of right back Maicon after more than a month out with a left thigh muscle injury.
“He's run up that wing thousands of times and he knows what he's doing,” Ranieri said.
In Siena, Rossi scored from the center of the area in the 56th after goalkeeper Zeljko Brkic was left out of position having failed to intercept a cross, and Palacio scored into an empty net after dribbling by Brkic in stoppage time.
The win moved Genoa into seventh place, 11 points back.
In Palermo, Cesena had already hit the crossbar before Mutu connected on a long header off a corner in the 63rd.
A minute later, Palermo was reduced to 10 men when Ezequiel Munoz picked up his second yellow card.
Cesena moved within two points of escaping the relegation zone.