Lazio re­main in ti­tle hunt

The Citizen (KZN) - - Sport -

Mi­lan – Mario Balotelli warded off the in­sults from trav­el­ling Lazio fans to strike the first goal of the decade in Italy but the ti­tle-chasers hit back with a Ciro Im­mo­bile dou­ble to snatch a late win at ten-man Bres­cia yes­ter­day.

Si­mone In­za­ghi’s side stretched their win­ning streak to nine con­sec­u­tive league games and with a game in hand are three points be­hind lead­ers In­ter Mi­lan and Ju­ven­tus who play to­day..

Im­mo­bile struck the win­ner af­ter 91 min­utes hav­ing also con­verted from the penalty spot be­fore the break.

“Peo­ple ex­pect more from us with all these wins and two tro­phies,” said In­za­ghi, whose side beat Ju­ven­tus to lift the Ital­ian Su­per­Cup tro­phy last month af­ter win­ning the Ital­ian Cup in May.

“We won a very im­por­tant game. We’ll try to con­tinue like this. We ab­so­lutely want to hit the Cham­pi­ons League.”

Felipe Caicedo had the ball in the back of the net early for Lazio from an Im­mo­bile cross but it was ruled off­side.

But Ital­ian in­ter­na­tional Balotelli picked up where he left off be­fore the win­ter break open­ing the scor­ing af­ter 18 min­utes for the pro­moted side.

The 29-year-old pulled clear of Luiz Felipe to vol­ley in his first home goal for Bres­cia and first of the decade.

He also scored the first goal of the pre­vi­ous decade in Jan­uary 2010 with In­ter Mi­lan.

The for­mer Manch­ester City and Liver­pool player was how­ever tar­geted by in­sult­ing chants from Lazio fans, ev­ery time he got the ball.

“It’s al­ready the sec­ond time,” Balotelli was heard telling ref­eree Gian­luca Man­ganiello af­ter half an hour, with the lat­ter re­ply­ing: “Now I’ll take care of it”.

In­za­ghi ges­tured wildly in front of the Lazio fans to stop the chant­ing, as an an­nounce­ment was read over the sta­dium speak­ers re­mind­ing fans that play would be sus­pended and their club pe­nalised if they con­tin­ued.

Bres­cia fans tried to drown out the in­sults with whis­tles and cheer­ing which Balotelli ap­plauded.

“Lazio fans that were to­day at the sta­dium SHAME ON YOU! #sayno­toracism,” Balotelli posted on In­sta­gram af­ter the game.

In Novem­ber, Balotelli was the sub­ject of mon­key chants at Verona while Bres­cia pres­i­dent Mas­simo Cellino also came un­der fire af­ter de­scrib­ing Balotelli’s dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion at the pro­moted Serie A club as a “black” sit­u­a­tion. –

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