Manchester United target Felipe Anderson came off the bench to hit a late goal as Lazio awoke from their slumber to stun Serie A title-chasers Fiorentina 3-1 on Saturday.

Keita Balde gave Lazio a first-half lead in Florence and the visitors looked to have wrapped up the points when Sergej Milinkovic-savic doubled Lazio’s lead two minutes into added-on time with his maiden Serie A goal.

In a dramatic finish to Fiorentina’s first home game of the year, Facundo Roncaglia reduced the arrears for the hosts only for Anderson to hit Lazio’s third at the death to cap what has been a rollercoaster week for the Brazilian.

Lazio moved up to ninth place, 12 points behind leaders Inter Milan ahead of their home game with Sassuolo on Sunday with Fiorentina still in second place but now in danger of being overtaken by Napoli and Juventus.

Lazio coach Stefano Pioli has been under increasing pressure after his side slipped to below mid-table and appeared to have found the culprit in Anderson.

Days after slamming the Brazilian for a lack of effort in a scoreless stalemate at Carpi in midweek, Pioli left the Brazilian forward on the bench for the trip to Florence.

Anderson was not the only big name being rested.

Josip Ilicic had found the net in Fiorentina’s last four league games, including a brace in a 3-1 win over Palermo on Wednesday but was rested as Paulo Sousa opted to give Milan Badelj his chance.

It was a decision that appeared to backfire as Fiorentina lacked their usual bite in a lively opening half in which Lazio produced several threats before Balde put the visitors ahead on the stroke of half-time.

The pace of Balde was causing the hosts problems down the left side and the Spanish-born Senegalese striker first threatened just before the half hour when he shimmied into the area to dink a left-footed effort off the chest of Ciprian Tatarusanu.

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Milinkovic-savic did well to intercept a poor clearance outside the area but after a one-two he pushed into the area only to dink a shot wide of Tatarusanu’s near post.

Minutes later, Fiorentina defender Davide Astori came to rescue with a clearing header as Milinkovic-savic rose to meet a corner to power a header towards the far top corner.

From the ensuing counter, Balde finally came good. Filip Djordjevic was surrounded by several Fiorentina’s players on the edge of the area when he off-loaded to Balde, who ran into the area virtually unhindered to fire across Tatarusanu into the far low corner of the net.

Fiorentina suffered a blow in the second half when Badelj was stretchered off, Ilicic finally making his appearance on the hour.

Sousa also introduced Giuseppe Rossi with a quarter-hour remaining and the striker unleashed a superb drive that forced Etrit Berisha into a two-handed parry at his far post.

Fiorentina looked to have finally found their rhythm, Marco Parolo heading the ball to safety a yard from the Lazio goalline, but the visitors had other ideas.

Lazio should have settled the game when Alessandro Matri collected Antonio Candreva’s pass across the area but the striker fired a tame shot at Tatarusanu.

At the other end Marcos Alonso’s looping header was just over, but in injury time the match exploded into life.

Milinkovic-savic emerged from traffic with the ball at his feet and stunned a static Tatarusanu with a low, bobbling shot at the ‘keeper’s near post.

Fiorentina reduced arrears when Berisha failed to hold Roncaglia’s drive from 25 yards, but Anderson put the match beyond reach when he came off the bench to beat Tatarusanu down low with a first-timer from Candreva’s searching pass.

By AFP