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Lazio fined $22,000 for racist chants at Balotelli

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MILAN — Lazio was fined 20,000 euros ($22,000) and at least temporarily avoided a stadium closure on Wednesday after its fans targeted Brescia striker Mario Balotelli with racist chants.

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Serie A judge Gerardo Mastrandrea requested that further details on the case be handled by the Italian soccer federation prosecutor to determine exactly where in the stadium the chants came from, and to what extent Lazio collaborates in terms of identifying those responsible, before possible further punishment.

Sunday’s game was halted for a few minutes shortly after the half-hour mark and an announcement to stop the chants was made to fans at the stadium in Brescia.

Brescia was leading 1-0 at the time following a goal scored by Balotelli, who had also been subjected to racial abuse earlier in the match.

Balotelli posted a video of his goal on Instagram after the match and wrote: “Lazio fans that were today at the stadium SHAME ON YOU!”

The 29-year-old Balotelli was singled out by Lazio fans for abuse all match with other offensive chants, that weren’t specifically racist, against him and his family.

“As has always happened in the past, Lazio dissociates itself in the most exhaustive way possible from the discriminatory behavior carried out by a very small minority of fans during the match against Brescia,” Lazio said in a statement after the game.

Lazio won 2-1.

Balotelli was also the target of racial abuse earlier this season when he threatened to leave the field because of racist chants directed at him by Hellas Verona fans during a match in November.

Racism has been a problem all season in Italy with offensive chants also aimed at Romelu Lukaku, Franck Kessie, Dalbert Henrique, Miralem Pjanic, Ronaldo Vieira and Kalidou Koulibaly. All of the players targeted – except for Pjanic, who is Bosnian – are black, and many of the incidents have gone unpunished.

Video: Lazio score twice in stoppage-time to win

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Lazio fans learned the meaning of “it ain’t over ’till it’s over” on Monday.

Facing a second-straight defeat in all competitions, and a tough loss a week ahead of a trip to Juventus, Lazio came back from one goal down with two stoppage-time strikes to beat Cagliari, 2-1, in Serie A action.

[ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Luis Alberto blasted a strike into the turf off a scramble in the box to tie the game at 1-1 in the 93rd minute, and then Felipe Caicedo headed home off a terrific cross from Jony to give Lazio the improbable win. Lazio pushed everything forward and it was too much for Cagliari to take in the end.

With the win, Lazio move into third place, four points ahead of arch rival Roma and just three points behind league-leaders Inter and Juventus.

Serie A roundup: Lazio hand 10-man Juventus first loss (video)

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Lazio’s triumphant victory over league favorites Juventus highlights Saturday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Lazio 3-1 Juventus

Juventus are no longer unbeaten in Serie A play under Maurizio Sarri, losing 3-1 to Simone Inzaghi’s inspired Lazio.

Luiz Felipe, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Felipe Caicedo scored for the home side, who are now three points behind second-place Juventus and five behind top-of-the-table Inter Milan.

Scoreless from open play since October, Cristiano Ronaldo found the back of the net in the 25th minute to put the Old Lady in front after tapping in Federico Bernardeschi’s well-placed pass inside the box.

It was Juventus’ game to lose, which they went on to do after a series of defensive and cognitive mishaps.

Tied after Felipe’s goal right before the break, Milinkovic-Savic scored in the 74th minute. The Serbian’s goal came after Juan Cuadrado was sent off for his reckless tackle on last-man Manuel Lazzari in the 69th. Milinkovic-Savic was set up by Luis Alberto‘s assist over the Juventus defense and scored with a low shot past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Ciro Immobile had a clear-cut chance to widen his red-hot goalscoring form, but the striker was denied by Szczesny from the spot. Juventus’ goalkeeper saved Immobile’s initial blistering strike, and his following second chance.

In stoppage time, however, Felipe Caicedo’s second-chance strike was too much for the Polish ‘keeper.

Juventus will have to quickly turn the page as they face Bayer Leverkusen midweek in their final match of the Champions League group stage, while Lazio travel to France to take on Rennes in their Europa League group stage finale.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Atalanta 3-2 Hellas Verona

Udinese 1-1 Napoli

Serie A Roundup: Roma pummel Brescia, move top four; Lazio edge Sassuolo (video)

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Inspired by Chris Smalling‘s career night, AS Roma’s dominant, 3-0 win over Brescia highlights Sunday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Roma 3-0 Brescia

A two-time Premier League league winner, Smalling, 30, must have a long list of “memorable” games to choose from. But after scoring once and assisting twice against bottom-dwellers Brescia on Sunday, it can be said that the Englishmen might have topped the list.

On Sunday, the defender became the first English player to score at least two goals in a single Serie A season since David Beckham.

The Manchester United loanee opened the floodgates in the 49th minute, heading Lorenzo Pellegrini’s lofting corner into the back of the net. Just eight minutes later, Roma scored a second from a corner-kick. 

This time, Smalling – keeping tabs on the last Brescia defender – headed the ball downwards, rebounding and finding defender Gianluca Mancini’s right foot, which set up for a simple volley strike past Jesse Joronen

In the 66th minute, the defender’s header found a well-positioned Edin Dzeko for Roma’s third and final of the night.

Now fourth in the Italian top flight, Roma prepare for Istanbul Basaksehir on Thursday, while Brescia look for their league win in eight consecutive games against Atalanta.

Sassuolo 1-2 Lazio

With the game two minutes away from the final whistle, Lazio needed a miracle to comfortably remain in Serie A’s third spot.

Substitute Felipe Caicedo was just that, scoring I Biancocelesti’s game-winning goal in the first minute of stoppage time.

 

With the frustration of not getting a penalty call go their way minutes earlier, Luis Alberto and Caicedo paced past Sassuolo’s midfield and backline, combining with a set of back-and-forth passes. Inside the box, with position to shoot at goal, the Ecuadorian’s strike bounced over two, full-stretch defender and into the back of the net.

In the first half, Serie A top scorer, Ciro Immobile, added his 15th of the season, while the home side finished the first 45 minutes with a lot of hope, following captain’s Francesco Caputo’s tap-in.

Red-hot Lazio host CFR Cluj on Thursday in Europe League play, while Sassuolo prepare for their big game against Juventus on Sunday.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Bologna 2-2 Parma

Verona 1-0 Fiorentina

Sampdoria 2-1 Udinese

Celtic fans stabbed in Rome ahead of Lazio clash

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Two Celtic fans have been stabbed in Rome ahead of their UEFA Europa League clash with Lazio on Thursday.

Police in the Italian capital have confirmed that 52-year-old and 35-year-old fans were stabbed in close proximity in separate incidents.

A brawl took place outside an Irish pub to spark the trouble, as Celtic had previously warned their fans about potential trouble in Rome.

The two supporters who were stabbed have been admitted to Policlinico Umberto I hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Here are more details from our partners in the UK, Sky Sports:

An eyewitness has told Sky Sports News that a group of Celtic fans were drinking outside the pub when they were approached by four or five people wearing masks.

They added that a chair was thrown towards the Celtic fans leading to a fight that lasted around 15 seconds, during which time one person was stabbed to the side of his torso.

Celtic supporters and bar staff brought the victim inside the pub and they remained conscious while an ambulance was called. The eyewitness said the crowd had been well behaved up until the incident took place.