Ciro Immobile and Lazio started the new year as they ended 2019 as the forward scored twice to help his side to a ninth straight Serie A victory but the match was blighted by yet another incident of racism in Italian football.
Third-place Lazio fought back from a goal down to win 2-1 at 10-man Brescia in stoppage time on Sunday and move to within three points of the top two, Juventus and Inter Milan.
Mario Balotelli had scored the opener but was twice the target of racist chanting by Lazio fans. On the second occasion the match was halted for a few minutes and an announcement made at the stadium, while Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi gesticulated to the visiting fans to stop the chants.
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!”
View this post on Instagram
Sconfitta che fa male ma ci rifaremo siamo sulla strada giusta. Laziali presenti oggi allora stadio VERGOGNATEVI! #saynotoracism✊ Is a lost that hurt but we will come back stronger and we are on the right way! Lazio fans that were today at the stadium SHAME ON YOU! #saynotoracism ✊
Immobile became the first player since Inter Milan's Antonio Valentin Angelillo in 1959 to score 19 goals in his first 17 Italian league matches of the season.
Lazio’s ninth consecutive Serie A win matched a club record set in 1998-99.
The capital side also beat Juventus in December to win the Italian Super Cup before the winter break.
Brescia, in contrast, is languishing in the relegation zone but it took the lead in the 18th minute, against the run of play, when Balotelli turned in Stefano Sabella’s ball over the top.
However, Brescia’s chances of a first win in three matches diminished shortly before the break when Andrea Cistana was sent off for hauling down Felipe Caicedo and Immobile converted the resulting penalty.
Even with 10 men, Brescia continued to play well and looked set to hold on for a point before Immobile fired in a ball from Caicedo in added time.
Immobile’s former teammate, Andrea Belotti, also scored twice to help his Torino team to a surprise 2-0 win at fourth-place Roma
Belotti, who also hit the woodwork twice, broke the deadlock in first-half stoppage time, smashing Tomás Rincón’s pass into the roof of the net.
Torino goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu had pulled off a number of saves in the first half and he preserved his side’s lead after the interval on several occasions.
Belotti secured the result with a penalty four minutes from time after Chris Smalling handled the ball.
They were Belotti’s first goals in two months and helped Torino move up to ninth ahead of Monday’s matches.
Genoa recorded its first victory since October, beating Sassuolo 2-1 to move off the bottom of the table.
It was David Nicola's first match in charge since becoming Genoa's third coach of the season.
Genoa moved a point off safety, consigning Spal to the bottom spot after its 2-0 defeat by Hellas Verona.
Spal had to play nearly an hour of the match with 10 men after defender Nenad Tomović was sent off for a reckless challenge.
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Updated Date: Jan 06, 2020 08:21:46 IST