Antonio Conte said Scudetto challengers Inter gifted two goals to Lazio and were "scared" in the second half of their 2-1 Serie A loss on Sunday.

Inter's half-time lead was erased as Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic completed a comeback for Lazio, who leapfrogged the Nerazzurri into second position.

Conte's side started the weekend ahead of defending champions Juventus on goal difference but by the end of their trip to Rome, Inter were three points off the pace in the race for the Scudetto.

After the blockbuster showdown in the Italian capital, Inter head coach Conte told Sky Sport Italia: "I think it was a good performance, it's the result I didn't like and the way we conceded the two goals, as we gifted them to Lazio.

"We were not impeccable, but inevitably in these big games, the details become decisive and the margin of error becomes reduced. It's part of a growth process, there was some naivete and these lads must try to be more relaxed in these situations.

"We were too soft on the two goals. We had other situations this season where we had taken the lead and threw points away, for example also Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund [in the Champions League], games we had in our grasp and ended up losing.

"As I said, this is a growth process and we have to go through it so that we can face every situation the right way. Straight after the restart, it was as if we were scared. That has to improve.

"The lads worked hard and I thank them for that. We are trying to irritate the teams at the top, it was a 'head-to-head' with Lazio and we ought to be proud to have been in this situation in the first place. At the same time, we must improve if we are to continue causing problems up there."

Ashley Young had given Inter the lead on the stroke of half-time – the former Manchester United captain and full-back becoming the first English scorer for the Nerazzurri in Serie A since Paul Ince in 1997.

Young has impressed since arriving from Old Trafford in January and the veteran said: "We've got a lot of games coming up, we've got to dust ourselves off pretty quick and get ready for the next game.

"Of course we're still in it [title race], there are plenty of games, plenty of points up for grabs and I'm sure we'll get back to winning ways."

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic sees no reason why Lazio should not battle Juventus and Inter for Scudetto honours after moving within a point of top spot in Serie A.

Milinkovic-Savic scored the match-winning goal as in-form Lazio rallied past title hopefuls Inter 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.

Ashley Young's first Inter goal was cancelled out by a Ciro Immobile penalty before Milinkovic-Savic's neat finish with 21 minutes remaining settled an absorbing contest in Rome.

Lazio leapfrogged Inter into second position behind eight-time defending champions Juventus as the Biancocelesti extended their unbeaten run in Serie A to a club-record 19 games – dating back to September.

"I scored, but the whole team got this victory. It's true what we said a few days ago, we are a family and we want to continue like this," Milinkovic-Savic told Sky Sport Italia.

"Inter didn't play a great first half and we created more chances, but they scored. So we went into the dressing room, said this has to be our game and we came back out with the same attitude, as if it was 0-0.

"What we feel obliged to achieve is a Champions League place, but if we are up there towards the end, then why not go for the Scudetto?

"Inter won't give up because we won tonight, we won't give up no matter what happens in future, then we'll just see how things pan out."

Lazio – Coppa Italia winners last season – have not won the Scudetto since Sven-Goran Eriksson led the capital club to glory in 2000.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic completed a second-half turnaround as Lazio secured what could be a crucial win in the Serie A title race by beating Inter 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico.

Lazio fell behind to Ashley Young's first goal since joining Inter in January but rallied after the restart to hand Antonio Conte's side, who went into this weekend top of the table, their first top-flight defeat in 17 matches.

Inter centre-back Stefan de Vrij, whistled incessantly by fans of his former club, was deemed to have fouled Ciro Immobile in the box and the prolific striker made no mistake from the spot five minutes into the second period.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic gave Lazio the lead with 21 minutes remaining and the hosts held on to move up to second, two points ahead of Inter and one behind leaders Juventus.

Lazio were without Milinkovic-Savic in their 1-0 win over Parma last weekend due to suspension and the Serbia international almost made a significant impact within nine minutes of his return, producing a venomous 20-yard drive that hit the crossbar.

Inter's best moments came on the break and after Thomas Strakosha blocked Antonio Candreva's swerving effort Young volleyed the follow-up into the top-left corner in the 44th minute.

Lazio were level five minutes after the restart. Milan Skriniar intercepted Luis Alberto's pass but looped it over Daniele Padelli, who fell over him, and De Vrij was penalised for a push on Immobile, who slotted home the resulting penalty.

Young was disappointed not to be awarded a spot-kick when he went down under a challenge from Luiz Felipe and Inter fell behind in the 69th minute.

Marcelo Brozovic did well to block Adam Marusic's shot on the line but Milinkovic-Savic picked out the bottom-left corner with the next attempt.

Lautaro Martinez headed in a Young cross from an offside position as Inter pushed for an equaliser, while Immobile was denied a brilliant second by Padelli as Simone Inzaghi's side extended their unbeaten run in Serie A to 19 matches.

 

What does it mean? Lazio are serious challengers

Two draws in their previous four matches had seen Lazio fail to take full advantage of slip-ups from fellow title challengers Inter and Juve.

This win ensured they remain thoroughly in contention, and while Inter and Juve have European and Coppa Italia commitments in their schedule, Lazio can focus all their attention on winning a first Scudetto since 2000.

Unstoppable Immobile

Immobile was in danger of failing to score in three straight Serie A games for the first time this season but by firing home from the penalty spot he took his tally for the campaign to 26.

De Vrij slips up

His first touch – and every subsequent one – was met with a chorus of boos and, after a decent first half, the former Lazio player gave away the penalty that the hosts equalised from.

What's next?

Inter head to Bulgaria for the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie against Ludogorets on Thursday and entertain Sampdoria three days later. Lazio travel to Genoa next Sunday.

Christian Vieri believes only Paris Saint-Germain's attacking force of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi can compete with Inter's long-term strike partnership of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez.

Inter are top of the table in a thrilling Serie A title race in which just one point separates the Nerazzurri from third-place Lazio, who host Antonio Conte's men in a huge contest at Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.

Lukaku has enjoyed a fine start to life at Inter, scoring 17 goals in 23 top-flight appearances, while Martinez has contributed 11 in 20.

Former Inter striker Vieri says the future is bright for Conte's side and not many teams boast a better long-term strike force.

"The pairing of Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez guarantees Inter both a present and future as a top club," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. 

"They're among the best three-four partnerships in the world, so considering their age and prospects, only PSG can compete with Kylian Mbappe, Neymar or Mauro Icardi."

Lazio have spent significantly less than Inter and second-place Juventus but are challenging in part due to Ciro Immobile's excellent return of 25 Serie A goals.

Immobile is the leading scorer in the league but Vieri says the Italy international and Lukaku, while outstanding talents in their own right, are not at the level of Juve forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who splits the two in the race for top-scorer honours.

"Ronaldo belongs to another category, he belongs to a world apart. He's a beast, always hungry, matched with impressive quality and technique," he added. 

"Lukaku is a pure centre-forward, devastating, physically strong. He fights, keeps the ball, helps his team-mates. Conte has helped Lukaku reach his physical peak.

"Immobile gives defenders a headache. He never stops moving and is incredibly difficult to mark. 

"He's more of an atypical striker, but is still lethal in front of goal, even with all that work. I respect him, he never stops working."

Having represented all three teams during a nomadic career, Vieri is well-placed to comment on a title race he believes is the best Serie A has seen in some time.

"It's the best title race in 10-15 years and I think it's going to be a battle right to the final round," the ex-Italy striker said.

Vieri also hailed Inter's signing of Christian Eriksen, a move he feels shows the club are displaying their ambition to return to the elite in European football.

"Inter want to win straight away, but with Eriksen, they also build for the future," he said. 

"He has so much quality, can cover all the midfield roles and the fact he chose the Nerazzurri confirms the club has grown on an international level."

Antonio Conte is convinced Lautaro Martinez remains fully focused on Inter amid speculation linking the striker with a move away from San Siro.

Martinez has shone for Inter alongside Romelu Lukaku this term, scoring 16 goals across all competitions for the Serie A leaders.

His form has seen him linked with a transfer to some of Europe's other major clubs, with Barcelona reportedly eager to secure the 22-year-old as a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez.

Conte, though, dismissed the suggestion Martinez will be disrupted by speculation over his future.

"Lautaro is only 22, but he is very mature. He has a wise head on his shoulders," Conte told a news conference ahead of Sunday's crunch Serie A encounter with title rivals Lazio.

"Transfer rumours mean very little. There is always paper talk. Players remain focused throughout.

"The players know what is asked of them. Rumours count for very little, zero. Players need to focus on the pitch."

Conte insists Inter's entire focus is on maintaining their title challenge, though he believes they will face a Lazio side that is ahead of the Nerazzurri in terms of their development on Sunday. 

"Winning is not easy, especially in Italy. In recent years only one team has won the league," Conte added. 

"It is similar in France and Germany. Lazio have won cups and trophies recently but it has taken time. They have kept the core of the squad. Plus they have strengthened each year. They are a strong side, who are ahead of us in terms of their journey. 

"Lazio have worked well off the pitch, work and planning is important, but so is patience. You need time and patience in football. That is the only way to grow which is our aim."

Pep Guardiola will consider his future at Manchester City after the club were hit with a two-season Champions League ban.

City were handed the sanction – and a €30million fine – by UEFA on Friday for "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play regulations.

The Premier League club have denied wrongdoing and intend to appeal the verdict, but they could face personnel problems if unsuccessful.

 

TOP STORY – GUARDIOLA TO CONSIDER MAN CITY FUTURE AFTER EUROPEAN BAN

Guardiola will consider his future as City manager at season's end unless the verdict is overturned, according to The Telegraph.

The Catalan – who has been linked with Juventus – is contracted until 2021 and had suggested previously he intended to honour his deal.

ESPN reports Guardiola is worried about how the ban will impact his players but does claim the former Barcelona coach would be willing to remain as long as he, personally, is happy.

ROUND-UP

- With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still under some pressure at Old Trafford, Manchester United are favourites to land Massimiliano Allegri as manager, according to Sport Mediaset. Paris Saint-Germain, Milan and Roma are also reportedly interested in the former Juventus coach.

- Staying at Manchester United, the Manchester Evening News reports Leicester City star James Maddison wants a move to the Premier League giants. Maddison has been reported to be close to signing a contract extension at the King Power Stadium.

- With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang coming out of contract at the end of next season, Arsenal may opt to sell the forward during the next transfer window. The Mirror reports Inter are hoping to sign Aubameyang, who has also been linked to Barcelona.

- Olivier Giroud is prepared to wait to make a decision on his future despite coming out of contract at season's end. The Telegraph reports the Chelsea striker has been offered a pre-contract by Lazio but is in no rush to make a decision after attracting interest from Tottenham in January.

- Inter and Napoli are set for a transfer battle. CalcioMercato reports Hellas Verona and Albania defender Marash Kumbulla is a target for both clubs, who will need to pay at least €20m for the 20-year-old.

Romelu Lukaku has made quite the impact in Serie A this season but he comes up against one of Europe's most in-form strikers in Ciro Immobile when Inter visit Lazio on Sunday.

Lazio have been one of the surprise packages in Italy's top flight this term and are just one point adrift of table-topping Inter ahead of a huge clash at Stadio Olimpico.

The performances of Immobile and Lukaku could well be crucial in determining the outcome of a blockbuster encounter between two teams aiming to end Juventus' stranglehold of Serie A.

With help of Opta data, we look at how the two compare this season.


IMMOBILE ON FIRE IN FRONT OF GOAL

Lukaku said "there's a new king in town" after helping Inter down Milan in the derby last weekend, and he has been an undoubted success during his maiden campaign at Inter. Thus far he has 17 goals in 23 Serie A appearances with an impressive minutes-to-goal average of 116.

But Immobile is Lazio's leading light, scoring 25 times in 23 league games, giving him an impressive average of a goal every 77 minutes in the top flight.

The Lazio man has also taken more shots (including blocked efforts), registering 93 to Lukaku's tally 68, with 46 on target compared to 35 for the Belgium striker.

Lukaku has scored nine and missed 10 'big chances', with Immobile's numbers reading 15 and 12 in that department. The Italian has a slightly better shot conversion rate (including blocks) of 27 per cent to 25.


CIRO THE CREATOR? LUKAKU UP FOR THE BATTLE

Lukaku's strengths are not just his goalscoring prowess but his ability to bring team-mates in to play.

Immobile is no slouch in terms of those attributes, though, and his six assists and 41 chances created outstrip what Lukaku (two and 34 in the respective categories) has managed this season.

Where Lukaku has outperformed Immobile is the number of duels won, with his 104 some way clear of Immobile's 65. Unsurprisingly, his duel success rate of 44.07 per cent is better than the Lazio forward's 38.69.

In terms of recoveries, Immobile has made 59 to Lukaku's 44.


THE STATS

- Immobile has failed to score in his past two league games; he has not gone three without a goal since last May.

- After scoring twice in his first three matches against Inter, Immobile has failed to net in the following eight against the Nerazzurri.

- Lukaku has the most away goals in the top five European leagues this season with 12, while Immobile is the highest scorer in home fixtures with 15 (the same total as Cristiano Ronaldo).

- Indeed, Lukaku's tally of 12 away goals is already the joint-best for a debut Serie A campaign. Andriy Shevchenko (1999-2000) and Antonio Vojak (1929-30) also managed as many on the road in their maiden seasons.

Serie A strikers Romelu Lukaku and Ciro Immobile lead the line in FIFA Ultimate Team's latest Team of the Week.

Lukaku and Immobile are two of the form front men in European football, and the duo have earned recognition following their latest goalscoring exploits.

Inter striker Lukaku grabbed both goals in a 2-0 away win at Udinese on Sunday.

And Immobile matched that haul as Lazio thrashed SPAL 5-1, the Italy international's brace taking his 2019-20 league tally to 25 already.

The duo are far from the only big names in this week's selection, however, with Roberto Firmino, Jadon Sancho and Hugo Lloris also among the new in-form cards.

Find the full squad below.

TEAM OF THE WEEK

GK: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) - 89

CB: Matthijs de Ligt (Piemonte Calcio/Juventus) - 87

LB: Alex Telles (Porto) - 87

CB: Yerry Mina (Everton) - 84

CM: Daniel Parejo (Valencia) - 88

RM: Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain) - 88

CAM: Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) - 87

CM: Santi Cazorla (Villarreal) - 86

CF: Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) - 88

ST: Ciro Immobile (Lazio) - 90

ST: Romelu Lukaku (Inter) - 88

SUBSTITUTES

GK: Steve Mandanda (Marseille) - 83

CB: Kaan Ayhan (Fortuna Dusseldorf) - 81

RM: Robert Snodgrass (West Ham) - 81

ST: Francesco Caputo (Sassuolo) - 84

RW: Daniel Ginczek (Wolfsburg) - 82

ST: Kasper Dolberg (Nice) - 81

LW: Oussama Idrissi (AZ) - 81

RESERVES

CM: Alexandru Maxim (Gaziantep) - 79

CM: Alexandru Cicaldau (Universitatea Craiova) - 78

LM: Ahmet Engin (Duisburg) - 76

LM: Nathan Thomas (Carlisle United) - 74

LW: Said Benrahma (Brentford) - 80

Lazio star Ciro Immobile is the best striker in Europe at the moment, according to his agent.

The 29-year-old Italy international scored twice in the 5-1 thrashing of SPAL last Sunday to take his tally to 25 Serie A goals for the season.

Immobile has accounted for almost half of Lazio's 52 league goals in 2019-20 and leads the race for the European Golden Shoe ahead of Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski and RB Leipzig's Timo Werner.

He is six goals clear of Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the Serie A scoring charts and is the first player since former Inter, Roma and Milan attacker Antonio Valentin Angelillo back in 1959 to reach 25 goals in the first 21 league games of the season in Italy's top flight.

Such has been Immobile's ruthless form that his representative, Alessandro Moggi, is in no doubt as to how he compares to the other leading forwards in the continent.

"I think he's the best striker in Europe, not just Italy," he said to Tuttomercatoweb.

Immobile's goals have propelled Lazio into a surprise Scudetto challenge.

Simone Inzaghi's men, who have lost just twice all season, will move second in the table and to within two points of leaders Juventus if they beat Hellas Verona on Wednesday.

Moggi thinks the fact Lazio and Inter are challenging Juve's dominance this season shows Serie A is on track to become Europe's elite league once more.

"It's certainly not a coincidence. It's the result of all three teams' work," he said of seeing three sides scrapping for the top of the table.

"I have to emphasise the work of Lazio, especially sporting director [Igli] Tare, who has managed to make his team competitive and even fight for the title with fewer resources.

"Serie A has got back to spending. It's returned to a league of arrivals, not only departures. We can get back to the glories of the past."

Ciro Immobile achieved a goalscoring feat not seen in Serie A for 61 years as Lazio thumped SPAL 5-1 to go second in the table.

A double each for the Italy international and Felipe Caicedo, plus a first goal for 20-year-old Bobby Adekanye, moved Simone Inzaghi's side to within five points of league leaders Juventus with a game in hand.

Immobile has scored 25 of Lazio's 52 league goals this season and leads the race for the European Golden Shoe ahead of Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski and RB Leipzig's Timo Werner.

Indeed, no player has ever managed more than 25 goals after the first 21 matches of a Serie A season. The only other player to equal that tally was former Inter, Roma and Milan attacker Antonio Valentin Angelillo back in 1959.

Immobile has scored 123 Serie A goals over the past 10 seasons, which is more than any other player - a record that seems more remarkable given the 29-year-old spent unsuccessful spells with Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla between 2014 and 2016.

Lazio were held to a 1-1 draw by Roma in the derby last Sunday, but they have won 12 of their past 15 league games and have not failed to score since a 1-0 loss at Inter on September 25.

"We talk about the Champions League in the dressing room," Immobile told Sky Sport Italia after the win. "We have to keep our feet on the ground and give the fans some fun. We're happy."

Inter will look to move above Lazio and back into second when they take on Udinese at Stadio Friuli later on Sunday.

Olivier Giroud will not be leaving Chelsea during the transfer window, which Frank Lampard said is "95 per cent" shut for the Blues.

France international Giroud was expected to leave Stamford Bridge in January, with Inter said to have been leading Newcastle United in the race for his signature.

With neither side able to get a deal done, it was reported on Friday that Lazio were making a deadline-day move for the striker.

However, Chelsea being left with too little time to bring in a replacement means he will spend the rest of the season with the Blues.

"Olivier Giroud in this window has been incredible as a professional and a man," said Lampard, who dismissed the chances of Dries Mertens and Edinson Cavani arriving in west London.

"We all know there's been interest and we said if it's right for us all [he could go] and he's been impeccable in that period. I've got huge respect for him for that.

"It's my job with all players to get the best out of them … it's key across the board, not just with Oli.

"I wouldn't say frustrating because I'm aware how football is and some things are not in my control. I wanted to bring players in and it hasn't happened.

"No ins means no outs."

Chelsea could be without their leading goalscorer Tammy Abraham when they face Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Saturday after he sustained an ankle injury in the draw against Arsenal last week.

"He's trained today and felt okay, we need to see if there's a reaction because it's a pain injury. Even in training he had pain," said Lampard, who added that there were no new injuries.

"But he did get out there today which is a positive in the longer term."

Manchester United look set to continue scrambling for strikers throughout deadline day.

While Bruno Fernandes has finally arrived, the Red Devils were reportedly less successful in a surprise bid to bring Bournemouth forward Joshua King back to Old Trafford.

Now, with the countdown well and truly on, a Tottenham target appears to have been removed from United's radar.

 

TOP STORY - UNITED PASS ON WILLIAN JOSE

Though still without Marcus Rashford, United have rejected the chance to sign Willian Jose on loan, according to Sky Sports.

Real Sociedad reportedly failed to gain a bite after offering the Brazilian striker to the Champions League aspirants amid negotiations with another Premier League club in Tottenham.

Spurs earlier looked to be in pole position to sign the 28-year-old permanently, but may now have to settle for a temporary deal as discussions continue.

The prospect of a bolstering their attack following Rashford's injury would have appealed to United, who reportedly failed in an attempt to capture Cherries star King.

The Telegraph claims Eddie Howe's insistence on keeping the Norwegian denied Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the chance to reunite with the player he coached while in charge of United's reserve side.

 

ROUND-UP

- Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain will keep Edinson Cavani unless LaLiga side Atletico Madrid improve from €15million to €20m, according to ESPN reporter Julien Laurens.

- Juventus midfielder Emre Can will join Borussia Dortmund on loan with an obligation for the Bundesliga club to buy for €30m, reports Goal.

- Manchester City are set to beat Arsenal, Barcelona and Bayer Leverkusen to Coritiba's 17-year-old Brazilian right-back Yan Couto, claims Mundo Deportivo. 

- Ricardo Rodriguez is out the door and Milan might have settled on a shock replacement. Sky Sports suggests the Rossoneri have agreed an €11.9m (£10m) deal to take left-back Antonee Robinson from Championship outfit Wigan Athletic. The Serie A side are also said to be on the cusp of signing Anderlecht youngster Alexis Saelemaekers.

- Inter and Lazio are competing to secure Chelsea centre-forward Olivier Giroud before the transfer window shuts, claims Sky Sport Italia. 

Lorenzo Insigne's fine solo goal proved the difference in an enthralling encounter as Napoli beat in-form Lazio 1-0 to advance to the Coppa Italia semi-finals.

Elseid Hysaj and Lucas Leiva were dismissed in the opening period, the latter shown a straight red after protesting against a booking, as Napoli handed Lazio just their third loss in 17 games in all competitions.

Insigne guided a cool finish past Thomas Strakosha after dribbling in from the left in the second minute, but Ciro Immobile missed a chance to equalise from the spot eight minutes later - Serie A's leading goalscorer losing his footing and looping his penalty over the crossbar.

Arkadiusz Milik saw a header come back off the post with 20 minutes remaining, with Immobile volleying against the bar before Mario Rui curled an effort against the woodwork in a frantic finale.

However, Napoli held on for a win - just their third since Gennaro Gattuso took over in December - that set up a last-four meeting with Fiorentina or Inter.

Simone Inzaghi thinks Lazio are still lacking something that would help them maintain a Serie A title challenge despite setting a new club record with 10 successive league victories on Saturday.

It was by no means plain-sailing for Lazio as Napoli came to Stadio Olimpico, as the visitors managed to frustrate Inzaghi's men for a long time.

But Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina was robbed by Ciro Immobile in the 82nd minute after failing to release the ball, and the Italy striker subsequently converted for his 20th Serie A goal of the season from the tight angle.

That sealed Lazio a 10th league win in a row, setting a new club record after equalling the previous one in a 2-1 victory at Brescia last weekend.

Lazio remain within touching distance of the top two, though Inzaghi is not putting pressure on his team for a title push.

When asked if Lazio are missing anything, Inzaghi told Sky Sport Italia: "A little, I have to be honest. 

"It will take a bit of luck that has been missing in the past few years. We have come close to our objectives before and missed something right at the end, like missing out on the Champions League in the last game.

"I also must be good at involving everyone. I need everyone, we hope everyone is at 100 per cent.

"The club is vigilant and the conversations [about transfers] are daily. We will see if there will be an opportunity to improve, and in that situation we could do something, but these guys have given a lot and January is never easy."

Lazio's winning run began with a 2-1 win at Fiorentina on October 27 and has included wins over Milan, Torino and Juventus, among others.

Lazio have avoided serious sanctions for racial abuse directed at Brescia's Mario Balotelli by their supporters after Lega Serie A confirmed the club have been handed a €20,000 fine.

Balotelli scored the opening goal in Sunday's encounter, before Lazio went on to claim a 2-1 victory thanks to Ciro Immobile's brace after Andrea Cistana had been sent off.

Shortly after Balotelli's goal, a warning was read out over the stadium's public address system after chants appeared to be targeting the Italy international.

Balotelli hit out at those responsible in an Instagram post that accompanied a clip of his goal, with the striker writing: "Lazio fans that were today [Sunday] at the stadium, SHAME ON YOU #saynotoracism."

The league agrees the chants were of a discriminatory nature and have issued a punishment, though Lazio avoided harsher sanctions due to their assistance in the investigation.

A Lega Serie A statement on Wednesday read: "Lazio was penalised an amount of €20,000 for having its supporters, in the 21st and 29th minutes of the first half, emitting a chant of racial discrimination against a player of the opposing team, in addition to an insulting chant against the same player in the 21st, 29th and 42nd minutes of the first half, which led the referee to interrupt the game to make the announcement aimed at the termination of the aforementioned discriminatory chant.

"The transmission of more detailed elements has also been arranged by the federal prosecutor, both with regards to the actual positioning (sector or sub sector)…of the supporters within which the leaders of this chant were placed, also regarding the active collaboration of Lazio in identifying the subjects involved in this discriminatory event, for the purpose of the possible adoption of further measures by this judge regarding the incident, and in any case also in relation to the evaluation of the possible recidivism."

This was not the first occasion Balotelli has been the target of abuse since returning to hometown club Brescia at the start of the season.

In November, the former Manchester City star kicked a ball into the stands and threatened to walk off the pitch after being subjected to monkey noises during a match against Hellas Verona.

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