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Lazio lose to Fiorentina ahead of Italian Cup final

MILAN

Lazio stumbled ahead of next week’s Italian Cup final showdown against Juventus falling to a 3-2 Serie A defeat at Fiorentina late on Saturday.

Second-half strikes from Khouma Babacar and Nikola Kalinic, and a Cristiano Lombardi own goal sealed three points which kept Fiorentina’s Europa League hopes alive. Keita Balde’s 55th-minute opener for Lazio, his seventh in four games, had Fiorentina hanging their heads in desperation and staring at a possible third defeat from their past five games.

But Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi rested several key players ahead of the Cup final date with treble-chasing Juventus, and Paulo Sousa’s hosts capitalised to claim a precious win that sent them up to seventh, one point behind Europa League-chasing AC Milan, who were held 1-1 away to fifth-placed Atalanta.

Gerard Deulofeu got the equaliser for Milan three minutes from time after prolific goal-scoring defender Andrea Conti’s opener just before the break — his eighth of the season.

The result ensured Atalanta qualify for next season’s Europa League after a 26-year absence from continental competition.

In Florence, Babacar spurned a chance to level moments after Balde’s strike when Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha sent a clearance straight to the Senegal striker but made amends by tipping his curling drive to safety.

But Strakosha was left stunned when the big centre-forward pulled Fiorentina level minutes later with a header at the keeper’s near post.

Agence France-Presse

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