Tullio M. Puglia
Lazio rescued a point to draw 2-2 with Palermo, after a spirited second half comeback almost gave the Rosanero a shock victory at the Renzo Barbera.
Two goals in two minutes from Arevalo Rios and Paulo Dybala turned the game on its head, as the home side cancelled out Sergio Floccari's first half opener. Floccari had a goal wrongly chalked off for offside when the score was still 1-0, but a late Hernanes penalty spared the Eagles' blushes. Lazio stretch their unbeaten run to 15 games in all competitions.
Palermo's second point in seven matches may not be enough to save Gian Piero Gasperini's job. The under-fire tactician named his side during a tense Friday Press conference then walked out without fielding any questions.
Dybala joined Fabrizio Miccoli and Josip Ilicic in an attacking 3-4-3 formation, which also included recent signings Salvatore Aronica and Andrea Dossena. Edgar Barreto sat out a ban and joined injured trio Franco Brienza, Andrea Mantovani and Abel Hernandez on the sidelines.
Injuries ruled out Abdoulay Konko, Ederson and Miroslav Klose for the visitors, while both Alvaro Gonzalez and Andre Dias were only fit enough for the bench. Vladimir Petkovic rotated his squad with one eye on Tuesday's Coppa Italia semi-final with Juventus.
Miccoli almost equalised ten minutes later. The Pocket striker collected a through ball, before quickly turning and forcing Federico Marchetti into a good save, to stop the ball finding the top corner. From the resulting corner, Aronica and Santiago Garcia both had shots blocked by Michael Ciani and Luis Cavanda.
Floccari almost doubled Lazio's lead on half an hour, but couldn't get enough on a header from Senad Lulic's cross.
Miccoli had his pocket picked by a well timed Ciani challenge, as he took off towards the Lazio box four minutes before the break.
Rios was denied a penalty after colliding with Cavanda in the box, while Ujkani did well to tip a Hernanes grass cutter wide on the stroke of half time.
Steve Von Bergen intercepted Stefano Mauri's through ball to Floccari at the start of the second half. At the other end, a poor header back from Cavanda had to be fisted clear by Marchetti before Miccoli could pounce.
Ciani blocked a Miccoli shot from Michel Morganella's pull back, while Marchetti had to scramble to smother a Giuseppe Biava deflection on his goalline, after he initially got sidetracked staring down at an injured Ciani.
Mauri threaded Floccari through to bury a well placed shot into the far corner on 62 minutes, but the goal was disallowed. Replays showed Von Bergen was clearly playing Floccari onside.
The home side continued to press. Miccoli scuffed another shot wide, before the Sicilians' persistence in front of goal finally paid off.
First, Rios poked home Dossena's low cross at the back post after the ball zipped past everyone in the box. A minute later, Dybala finished a slick move that involved an Ilicic cross and Miccoli's delicate one touch pass, resulting in the young Argentine calmly tucking the ball underneath Marchetti's body.
With six minutes to play, Lazio were awarded a penalty after Floccari went down under substitute Ezequiel Munoz's slide tackle. Ujkani guessed the right way, but Hernanes buried the spot kick underneath his body into the bottom right corner.
Dybala teed Miccoli up in the box with the last kick of the game, but he ballooned his volley into Row Z.
Palermo: Ujkani; Von Bergen, Aronica, (Munoz 46) Garcia; Morganella, (Anselmo 65) Arevalo Rios, Kurtic, Dossena; Ilicic; (Malele 79) Dybala, Miccoli
Lazio: Marchetti; Biava, Cana, Ciani; Radu, (Candreva 73) Cavanda, Ledesma, (Kozak 80) Hernanes, Lulic; (Gonzalez 68) Mauri; Floccari
Goals: Floccari 10 (L) Rios 70 (P) Dybala 71 (P) Hernanes pen 84 (L)