Inter Milan’s hopes of a top-six finish were dealt a huge blow on Wednesday as Lazio claimed a 3-1 victory at San Siro.
Andrea Stramaccioni’s side had lost four of their previous five games heading into the match and desperately needed three points to keep their UEFA Europa League chances alive.
However, Inter fell behind to an own-goal and despite Ricky Alvarez’s equaliser, the hosts failed to take their chances, with Hernanes converting a penalty and Ogenyi Onazi scored a spectacular goal as Lazio came out on top.
Stramaccioni has had to deal with a lengthy injury list in recent weeks but welcomed Tommaso Rocchi and Esteban Cambiasso back into his starting line-up.
Vladimir Petkovic named an unchanged side following Sunday’s 6-0 win against Bologna, in which striker Miroslav Klose netted five.
Inter midfielder Alvarez was first to try his luck with a powerful strike from 20 yards, which Federico Marchetti parried away well.
The Lazio goalkeeper collided with team-mate Andre Dias as he attempted to clear a lofted pass minutes later and both players required treatment.
There was no sign of a serious injury to Marchetti though as he pulled off a fantastic save to keep out a fierce strike from Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic.
Lazio took the lead in unusual fashion in the 21st minute after goalkeeper Samir Handanovic failed to clear Ledesma’s cross from the right with his fist and the ball bounced over the line.
Antonio Candreva should have doubled the visitors’ advantage moments later but the winger dragged his shot narrowly wide of the post while one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Ranocchia stopped a certain Lazio goal by throwing himself in front of an effort from Sergio Floccari, after Handanovic had denied Klose, before the hosts went down the other end of the pitch and equalised through Alvarez.
The Argentine rose highest to meet Alvaro Pereira’s fine cross from the left and his thumping header left Marchetti with no chance.
The goalkeeper did make a great diving save to deny Cambiasso though as the hosts piled on the pressure in search of an immediate second.
Inter should have doubled their lead shortly before half-time but Alvarez somehow blazed an effort over the bar from eight yards out before Lazio made a last-ditch clearance.
The hosts were punished for not taking their chances as Floccari won Lazio a penalty in first-half injury time, following a foul by Ranoccia.
Brazilian midfielder Hernanes curled the spot-kick high into the top corner to restore Lazio’s lead.
Inter were unlucky to trail at the break and could have hit back shortly into the second half as Fredy Guarin had two great opportunities.
The Colombian fired wide with a curling 25-yard effort before missing from 12 yards out after some great work and a cross from Alvarez on the right wing.
Inter had penalty appeals waved away after Rocchi’s cross seemed to hit the arm of Stefan Radu, but the referee pointed to the spot seconds later when Cana brought down Guarin.
However, Alvarez slipped as he stepped up to take the spot-kick and fired high over the crossbar.
At the other end, Hernanes stung the gloves of Handanovic with a powerful strike before Juan Jesus picked up a yellow card for hauling down Klose when through on goal.
Lazio secured the three points in the 77th minute when substitute Onazi fired a spectacular 30-yard effort into the top-right corner of the net.
Marchetti made two great saves during the closing stages to deny Rocchi and Inter succumbed to yet another defeat, which has put the all-important fifth place out of their reach.