Milinkovic-Savic nets 2 as Lazio beats Sassuolo 3-0
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ROME (AP) Sergej Milinkovic-Savic showed just why some of Europe's top clubs are after him with two goals as Lazio strolled to a 3-0 win at Sassuolo in Serie A on Sunday.
The league's leading scorer Ciro Immobile also netted a penalty as Lazio moved up to third, a point above Inter Milan and two above Roma, which hosts AC Milan later.
Juventus is also playing later, at home to Atalanta, knowing that a win will send it top of Serie A, with leader Napoli visiting Cagliari on Monday.
Before the match, Lazio's sporting director Igli Tare had confirmed the club had rejected a 70 million euro ($86 million) bid for Milinkovic-Savic, with Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain among the clubs reportedly interested in the Serbia midfielder, who turns 23 on Tuesday.
It took Milinkovic-Savic less than seven minutes to get on the scoresheet, curling a magnificent strike into the far corner from outside the area with the help of a slight deflection.
There was controversy on the half hour mark when Alessandro Murgia's pass struck Federico Peluso's hand. The referee had let play run on but was encouraged to review it by the video assistant referee and awarded a penalty although it was doubtful whether the handball was intentional.
Immobile struck the spot kick low to the right for his 23rd league goal of the season.
Milinkovic-Savic doubled his tally two minutes into the second half, heading Felipe Anderson's cross into the bottom right corner.
Both sides were reduced to 10 men when Sassuolo forward Domenico Berardi received a straight red in the 54th for a reckless challenge on Stefan Radu and Lazio midfielder Adam Marusic was sent off for elbowing Rogerio in the face.
The win will be a boost for Lazio ahead of a crucial period for the capital side that sees it play Milan in the second leg of their Italian Cup semifinal, host Juventus in Serie A and entertain Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League last 16.
Spal boosted its hopes of Serie A survival with a vital 3-2 win in a relegation battle at Crotone.
Spal remained 18th in the 20-team league, but moved to within a point of Crotone, which occupies the last position of safety.
Spal had lost its past three matches but took the lead in the 37th minute as Manuel Lazzari rolled the ball across from the right for Mirco Antenucci to fire into the top right corner.
Ante Budimir fired home a rebound shortly after halftime to level for Crotone but Lorenco Simic restored Spal's advantage two minutes later with a looping header.
It appeared as if Paloschi had secured Spal's victory when he put his side 3-1 up on the hour but Budimir netted his second of the match to set up a nervy final four minutes for the visitors.
Hellas Verona gave itself hope of avoiding the drop with a 2-1 win over Torino.
Verona moved to within two points of Crotone.
Elsewhere, Fiorentina beat Chievo Verona 1-0 and Matias Silvestre scored at both ends as his Sampdoria side beat Udinese 2-1.
More AP Serie A coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/SerieA
Updated February 25, 2018