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Balotelli responds to Hellas Verona ultras after racist chanting

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Mario Balotelli has responded to Hellas Verona ultras on social media after enduring yet another spell of racist chanting in Serie A play.

The Brescia striker booted the ball into the stands and was visibly upset after fans racially abused him in the 2-1 defeat to Verona at Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi. It appeared that Balotelli initially wished to walk off the pitch before players seemed to console him during the ensuing stoppage of play.

Luca Castellini, leader of the Hellas Verona ultras who were accused of the abuse, issued a disgusting statement via local radio that contradicted itself on numerous occasions, called Balotelli a “clown” and claims he is not fully Italian, played the abuse off as without “political or racist intentions,” and said the chants were “voices in [Balotelli’s] own head.” Verona president Maurizio Setti also refused to condemn the fans, saying the crowd was “light-hearted, not racist” and had “real sport in its DNA.”

Balotelli has since responded to Castellini’s words on Instagram, where he took to thank his teammates and supporters, who he said “you have proven to be true men, unlike those who deny the evidence.”

He then used his Instagram Story to provide further commentary, including a fan video of the incident where monkey chanting can be heard just before Balotelli kicks the ball into the stands. Balotelli himself writes, “Here, my friends, this has nothing to do with football anymore. You are implying about a social and historical situation much bigger than you small-minded people. You guys are losing it. Wake up, you ignorant people.” To the claims that he is not Italian, he wrote, “But when Mario scored and still guarantees to score goals for Italy, you were fine with it?” He states, “these ‘people’ must be cast out by society, not just by football.”

He finished off his posts with, “Just leave it alone. Enough. Enough.”

Balotelli scored in the loss – his second goal of the Serie A season – in the defeat to Hellas Verona, although the club was unable to snap its six-match winless run.

Smooth Spurs slice through Burnley

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Tottenham Hotspur was at its very best in blowing Burnley out of the water with a 5-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Harry Kane scored twice and added an assist as Spurs moved into fifth place with 23 points, while Burnley slipped into 13th via goal differential on 18 points.

It is the first clean sheet for Jose Mourinho as Spurs boss, but this was all about the goals. Kane’s goal were both classy to join a sensational Heung-Min Son marker that had the Internet abuzz. Moussa Sissoko and Lucas Moura also scored, with Dele Alli getting two assists.


Three things we learned

1. Kane at his very best, Dele keeps up form: Harry Kane entered the game on pace for an 18-goal league season, which might surprise you given how quiet he’s been. There was no problem with the volume on Saturday, as he scored not one but two simply wonderful goals straight out of his career highlight reel. If Kane can return to dominant force status, than there is no reason to believe Spurs cannot challenge for a Top Four space.

And Dele Alli, what can you say? He was far from incredible, especially given how good Son, Kane, and Lucas performed, but another two assists on the day give him three goals and three assists in four PL matches under Mourinho.

2. Maradona cloned in South Korea: We know Son is very good. We didn’t learn that, but we did learn that people in the year 2019 are still capable of full-field, Maradona/Messi level dribbles. Holy smoke, Sonny.

3. Burnley abject again as Spurs get rare clean sheet: The Clarets were up against it, yeah, but this was another performance that Sean Dyche will find it hard to stomach. The goals conceded hurt, but there was absolutely zero threat against a Spurs team which hasn’t been at its best in defense. Burnley now has seven shots on target in its last three games, which is not a good total, and the defending on Sissoko’s goal was pitiful and oh-so-easy.

Then again, the idea with Mourinho is that things would tighten up at the back, and the Portuguese manager trusted the same back line (including Serge Aurier) in getting a much-needed zero on the home scoreboard.

Man of the Match: Kane.


This was all Spurs from moment No. 1, and we wouldn’t want to be the Clarets when Burnley boss Sean Dyche shows film and takes training; The defending was terrible.

But take nothing away from Spurs, who scored incredible goals.

First Kane scored one of two trademark goals from distance (the second just inside the 18), and Dele set up Lucas Moura for fine second goal.

The third goal was Son’s incredible dribble goal, which is going to be on loop and really should be a favorite for Goal of the Season.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Kane struck again (at bottom), and Sissoko rolled in the fifth goal with a calm finish after a scything 1-2 with Kane between Burnley’s poor defenders.

Here’s is Kane’s second:

Watford, Crystal Palace play to feisty draw

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Watford and Crystal Palace played out a 0-0 draw a Vicarage Road on Saturday as the hosts squandered several chances to pick up their first home win of the season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Wilfried Zaha was involved in plenty of hefty of challenges, for and against, as Palace huffed and puffed but didn’t really get going in attack. Gerard Deulofeu and Ismaila Sarr both went close for Watford, who had new manager Nigel Pearson watching on from the stands.

With the point Watford remain bottom of the team and have nine points for the season, while Palace are in seventh place on 22 points.

3 things we learned

1. Pearson already having an impact: This was so much better from Watford. Similar to their narrow defeat at Leicester in midweek,  they looked compact and solid defensively and Deulofeu was a menace underneath Deeney. Pearson watched on from the directors box tentatively throughout, as caretaker Hayden Mullins oversaw a solid display which should have yielded three points.

2. Rattled Zaha targeted: Wilfried Zaha and Watford mean one thing: Fouls. Zaha was clearly targeted by the Hornets and he went down on several occasions all game long, but was booked for a foul of his own and to his disbelief his calls for fouls were often overlooked. There is previous here as Zaha was the target for the home fans and players, and Roy Hodgson did his best to calm the Ivorian winger down. Eventually he did calm down, but he was rattled. After his fine displays in recent wins, Zaha was far from his best.

3. Sarr adds cutting edge: Palace had to bring in Jairo Reidewald for Jeffrey Schlupp at half time at left back to try and stop Sarr’s driving runs down the right flank. He came close to scoring to add to his goal at Southampton last weekend, and his power and pace perfectly complimented Delofeu’s trickery. If Watford can stay solid defensively, Deulofeu, Deeney and Sarr will give plenty of defenses problems.

Man of the Match:


Both teams went close early as Troy Deeney‘s scuffed effort was cleared by James Tomkins, James McArthur sent a volley wide of the far post and then Ismaila Sarr’s shot was deflected wide at the other end.

Watford took the game to Palace early on as Pearson’s arrival as their new manager on Friday, even if he wasn’t in the dugout, had an impact. Gerard Deulofeu was popping up time and time again and his deliveries from set pieces caused Palace problems.

Once again in a game between Palace and Watford it was Wilfried Zaha who was at the center of things as the players piled in after he was caught by several defenders as he was on the floor, then he was booked moments later before Craig Cathcart also received a yellow for fouling Luka Milivojevic.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Watford pinned Palace back in the second half as they peppered the goal and Deulofeu raced clear before smashing just wide.

The Spaniard then crossed for Sarr but his effort was saved by Vicente Guaita as the game opened up in the closing stages with Ayew firing just over on the counter and then Gary Cahill twice denying Sarr with brilliant blocks.

Andre Gray shanked a shot goalwards after more good work from Sarr, while Deeney went down in the box in stoppage time and wanted a penalty kick, as tempers flared late on with Zaha involved again.

In the end the two teams canceled each other out with Palace lackluster in attack and Watford disappointed not to take three points to lift themselves closer to safety.

Watch Live: The Manchester Derby

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Manchester United can send a message to the Top Four and lay down a marker for its manager when it visits Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

United enters the match on 21 points, eight back of losing Chelsea and two behind fifth place Spurs, while City looks to climb ahead of Leicester City ahead of the Foxes 9 a.m. ET Sunday visit to Aston Villa.

But really, this is about territory, and whether Manchester is blue or red for a few months.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Fernandinho, Angelino, Rodrigo, D Silva (C), De Bruyne, Bernardo, Sterling, G Jesus. Subs: Bravo, Gundogan, Mendy, Mahrez, Cancelo, Otamendi, Foden.

Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, James, Lingard, Rashford, Martial. Subs: Romero, Tuanzebe, Williams, Young, Andreas, Mata, Greenwood.

Son scores a throwback, full-field dribble goal to up Spurs lead

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Heung-Min Son saw Harry Kane‘s stunner and pushed all his chips into the pot.

The South Korean continued Spurs first-half demolition of Burnley by providing a third goal via a wonderful, near field-length dribble and finish that would make Diego Maradona nod in approval.

[ STREAM: Spurs-Burnley + every PL match ] 

He must’ve covered 80 yards or more on the dribble, winding his way into open space with a couple of touches past wayward defenders.

Don’t sleep on the speed, either, Son in possession and blazing past defenders at full sprint.

Scores, streams

Bournemouth 0-2 Liverpool – NBCSN [STREAM]
Tottenham 3-0 Burnley
– NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
Watford 0-0 Crystal Palace
– NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]