Milan (AFP) - Lazio's title dream suffered yet another setback on Saturday as Francesco Caputo's injury-time header grabbed Sassuolo a 2-1 victory at the Stadio Olimpico to hand Juventus the chance to move 10 points clear at the Serie A summit.
The midweek loss at lowly Lecce appeared to signal the end of Lazio's title challenge, but Juve's late implosion in a 4-2 defeat by AC Milan kept the gap at seven points.
But a third straight loss for Lazio means that when Juve host in-form Atalanta later on Saturday, Juve could either stretch their lead or the Bergamo outfit could climb into second.
Lazio were only one point behind Juventus when the Italian top flight resumed following the coronavirus lockdown, but they have lost four times in six matches since.
"Talking about the Scudetto was always a bit of a stretch and we have to look reality in the face," coach Simone Inzaghi told Sky Sport Italia after his side's hopes of a first league title in 20 years slipped further out of view.
"That doesn't mean we will give up. Next season, in the Champions League, we'll be able to rotate the squad more."
Atalanta, on a winning streak of 11 games in all competitions, could cut the gap to Juve to six points if they beat the Turin giants at the Allianz Stadium.
A fourth successive league win for Sassuolo boosted their European hopes as they moved within three points of seventh-placed Milan, who occupy the final possible Europa League spot.
Hosts Lazio survived an early scare when Sassuolo striker Giacomo Raspadori was denied an early goal for offside.
Inzaghi's men did take the lead against the run of play 12 minutes before half-time as Alberto's blocked shot bounced back off his shin and looped into the top corner.
It was the former Liverpool midfielder's seventh goal of the season in all competitions.
Sassuolo continued to be the better side and levelled seven minutes into the second period as Mehdi Bourabia won the ball high up the pitch and fed Caputo, who squared for the 20-year-old Raspadori to cap his first Serie A start with a simple tap-in.
Lazio rarely looked like grabbing an all-important victory, with centre-back Bastos coming closest to a late winner for the home side when he headed over as the capital club finished the match with just one shot on target.
They always looked vulnerable at the back, though, and Caputo pounced to nod home in the second minute of injury-time after the Lazio defence fell apart after failing to clear a corner.
Roma strengthened their grip on a Europa League slot with a comfortable 3-0 win at relegation-threatened Brescia.
Second-half goals from Federico Fazio, Nikola Kalinic and Nicolo Zaniolo secured a straightforward three points for fifth-placed Roma, who sit 11 points off the top four with six games left to play.
Brescia remain second-bottom and seven points from safety.