Brescia striker Mario Balotelli says those who deny he was racially abused during Sunday's Serie A match at Hellas Verona are not "real men".

Balotelli kicked the ball angrily towards Verona supporters early in the second half after hearing abuse, before threatening to walk off the pitch.

The referee brought play to a halt before following protocol, with a statement read out to the crowd in an attempt to resolve the issue.

Balotelli was persuaded to stay on and see out the game by team-mates and Verona players, with the former Manchester City and Inter Milan striker going on to score a stunning late goal in Brescia's 2-1 defeat at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi.

Speaking after the game, Verona's head coach Ivan Juric and president Maurizio Setti claimed they heard no abuse directed at Balotelli, with the former stating: "I'm not afraid to say it: today, there was nothing, no racist booing."

Alongside a video showing his reaction to the abuse and his goal on Instagram, Balotelli wrote: "Thanks to all the colleagues on and off the field for the solidarity expressed toward me and all of the messages received from fans. A heartfelt thanks. You've shown yourself to be real men, not like those who deny the evidence."

Balotelli also reposted a video taken by a fan of him being abused, and the Italy international wrote: "To the 'people' in this end who made the monkey noises: shame on you. Shame on you. Shame on you in front of your children, wives, parents, relatives, friends and acquaintances…shame."

The result leaves Brescia in the relegation zone, with the club announcing after the game they had sacked head coach Eugenio Corini.

Goals from Joaquin Correa and Ciro Immobile helped Lazio to a 2-1 win at AC Milan on Sunday that saw them climb to fourth in the Serie A table.

The victory was Lazio's first away from home against Milan in Serie A since September 1989, ending a 29-match winless run in the fixture.

Immobile's 100th Lazio goal put the capital club in the lead but mid-table Milan quickly levelled after Krzysztof Piatek's flick was diverted into his own net by Bastos.

After an end-to-end first half, both sides struggled for momentum after the interval and it took an exquisite pass from Luis Alberto to set up Lazio's winner.

The Spaniard cleverly found Correa and he did the rest, charging into the penalty area to slot an 83rd-minute winner.

Immobile started the match with 12 Serie A goals this season - two more than Milan - and after starting brightly, he hit the crossbar with a curling 22nd-minute effort.

The prolific striker was not to be denied and gave Lazio the lead with a superb glancing header from Manuel Lazzari's terrific cross from the right.

Lazio were more than deserving of their lead but were pegged back in the 28th minute through Bastos' own goal, and Milan were inches away from taking the lead when Hakan Calhanoglu's corner caught goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha off guard and nearly crept in.

Goalmouth action was minimal after the break but Lazio thought they had won a penalty after a challenge from Theo Hernandez on Lazzari. Referee Gianpaolo Calvarese was not interested, though.

Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was alert to keep out a good Francesco Acerbi effort, too, as Lazio pressed for a match-winning goal.

And it came seven minutes from time when Alberto picked out Correa and the Argentina international calmly scored his third goal in five matches.

What it means

While Lazio moved up to fourth, Milan's indifferent start to the season is shown by the fact they sit 11th, already 16 points behind league leaders Juventus.

Immobile's milestone night

The Lazio striker showed why he is Serie A's top scorer with another terrific performance. Immobile's movement for his first-half header was outstanding, the forward cleverly creating space with a darting run before heading home in style. He could have easily scored more than once and linked superbly with the equally sharp Luis Alberto.

Tears of frustration

Milan midfielder Samuel Castillejo looked lively and creative in the early stages. The 24-year-old is pushing to be a first-team regular for Milan but was forced off with injury in the 36th minute and he was emotional as a result.

What's next?

Lazio host Celtic in a crucial UEFA Europa League fixture on Thursday, while Milan have all week to prepare for a tricky trip to Juventus on Sunday.

Goals from Joaquin Correa and Ciro Immobile helped Lazio to a 2-1 win at AC Milan on Sunday that saw them climb to fourth in the Serie A table.

Immobile's 100th Lazio goal put the capital club in the lead but mid-table Milan quickly levelled after Krzysztof Piatek's flick was diverted into his own net by Bastos.

After an end-to-end first half, both sides struggled for momentum after the interval and it took an exquisite pass from Luis Alberto to set up Lazio's winner.

The Spaniard cleverly found Correa and he did the rest, charging into the penalty area to slot an 83rd-minute winner.

Hellas Verona president Maurizio Setti says he did not hear any racist abuse aimed towards Brescia striker Mario Balotelli during Sunday's Serie A clash.

Balotelli kicked the ball angrily towards Verona supporters early in the second half after hearing abuse, before threatening to walk off the pitch.

The referee brought play to a halt before following protocol, with a statement read out to the crowd in an attempt to resolve the issue.

Balotelli was persuaded to stay on and see out the game by team-mates and Verona players, with the former Manchester City and Inter Milan striker going on to score a stunning late goal in Brescia's 2-1 defeat at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi.

Setti insists he did not hear any of the abuse, and he rejects accusations that Verona supporters are racist.

"We did not hear anything," Setti told reporters. "I arrived in Verona eight years ago and immediately saw that the Verona fans are ironic, but absolutely not racist. When Balotelli made his debut here for AC Milan six years ago there were episodes of racism, and we condemned it. We have always done.

"It is wrong to generalise and speak for all 20,000 fans when a couple of people have said something. If there are two or three people who have said something, we are ready to take action against them because we condemn any episode of this type.

"But to speak of Verona as we were 30 years ago is wrong. We are a club that only has sport in our real DNA. There are many players of colour who wear the Gialloblu from the youth team to the first.

"Racism is a path that doesn't exist for us and Verona is not a correct position for generalisations. In eight years of my presidency, you could confirm this. The attitude of our fans is absolutely correct."

Verona coach Ivan Juric shares Setti's view, earlier telling Sky Sport Italia: "I'm not afraid to say it: today, there was nothing, no racist booing.

"There was a lot of booing and teasing of a great player, but there was nothing really racist today."

Hellas Verona head coach Ivan Juric insists fans did not racially abuse Brescia striker Mario Balotelli in Sunday's Serie A match.

Balotelli kicked the ball into the stands and threatened to walk off the pitch in the second half of his side's 2-1 defeat at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi.

The referee brought play to a halt before following protocol, with a statement read out in an attempt to resolve the issue.

After appeals from his team-mates and Verona players, Balotelli decided to stay on the pitch and see out the game.

The striker, who has had a fractious relationship with Verona fans, went on to score a stunning goal five minutes from time and there were chants of support for the player from large sections of the crowd after the initial incident.

Croatian Juric, a former Genoa player and coach who has been subjected to discriminatory chants in his time in Italy, admits there is a serious problem with racism in the country but is adamant the taunts aimed at Balotelli were not of that nature.

"I'm not afraid to say it: today, there was nothing, no racist booing," Juric said to Sky Sport Italia.

"There was a lot of booing and teasing of a great player, but there was nothing really racist today.

"I am Croatian, and I've often heard 's***** gypsy', so chants like this and racist insults make me sick. The whole of Italy is moving in this direction, but there was nothing at all today."

When asked why Balotelli reacted in such a way if he had not been racially abused, Juric replied: "You'll have to ask him. I only heard teasing, nothing else.

"I have no problem reporting allegations if there are any, even those against our own fans. This is something that can't be accepted in 2019. But, today, there was nothing at all.

"I repeat, I am the first to condemn racism, but today I only heard a lot of jeering of a great player.

"We're not talking about racism, because that's a lie. We're not creating a case where there isn't one."

In his post-match news conference, Juric added: "I think, on a human level, being racist is an absolute low. In this case, I don't think anything has happened. I spoke with the fourth official, too.

"There was only teasing of a great player. I don't want to say anything against Mario. It may have happened to him elsewhere."

Mario Balotelli almost walked off the pitch during Brescia's Serie A visit to Hellas Verona on Sunday after being subjected to racial abuse.

The 29-year-old kicked the ball into the stands and started to walk off during the second half of his side's 2-1 defeat at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi.

The referee brought play to a halt before following protocol, with a statement read out in an attempt to resolve the issue.

After appeals from his team-mates and Verona players, Balotelli decided to stay on the pitch and see out the game.

Chants of support for Balotelli from large parts of the crowd were heard after the incident.

The former Manchester City and AC Milan striker, who has historically had a fractious relationship with Hellas Verona supporters, went on to score in the 85th minute.

Out of work and looking for a job – Massimiliano Allegri could be poised for a return to the dugout.

Allegri left Juventus at the end of 2018-19 after guiding the Old Lady to five consecutive Serie A titles.

The Italian coach has been linked to Manchester United but, with Niko Kovac on the brink at Bayern Munich, Allegri could find himself in Bavaria.

 

TOP STORY – BAYERN GO FOR ALLEGRI

Bayern Munich want former Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri to replace Niko Kovac, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Kovac is on the verge of being sacked after Bayern's humiliating 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, with the Bundesliga champions cancelling Sunday's public training session as pressure mounts.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax's Erik ten Hag have been linked but Bayern have reportedly identified the man to take over in Munich.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror claims Manchester United are ready to hijack Liverpool's move for RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner. Champions League holders Liverpool have been linked to Werner, however, United want to bring the Germany international to Old Trafford in January.

Perth Glory are still optimistic they can lure Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Australia, reports The West Australian. After revealing an approach for Ibrahimovic on a guest-player contract, A-League side Perth have seen Serie A outfit Bologna confirm their interest in the 38-year-old striker ahead of the January transfer window. Ibrahimovic's LA Galaxy contract will expire before the end of the year.

Tottenham are eyeing a January swoop for Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana. With Hugo Lloris out injured, Spurs are on the lookout for a new keeper and £35million could see Eredivisie champions Ajax sell the Cameroon international.

- According to the Guardian, Arsenal have joined United and Juventus in the transfer chase for Salzburg sensation Erling Haaland.

- Mundo Deportivo says Barcelona have dropped their interest in Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar. The Slovakia international has established himself as one of the best defenders in the world since joined Inter in 2017.

United and Paris Saint-Germain are leading the race to sign Juventus midfielder Emre Can, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri said it is "premature" to describe the Serie A title race as a two-horse race between the defending champions and Inter.

Saturday's 1-0 Derby della Mole win away to Torino saw Sarri's Juve return to the top of the table ahead of rivals Inter.

Matthijs de Ligt's second-half goal ensured Juve stayed a point clear of Inter following 11 games, after the latter edged Bologna 2-1.

However, Sarri dismissed suggestions the Scudetto battle is now a fight between Juve and Inter, with Atalanta able to close within four points of the lead by beating Cagliari on Sunday.

Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta played down speculation linking star forward Lautaro Martinez to Barcelona and Manchester United.

Martinez's fine start to the season has seen him emerge as a target for LaLiga champions Barca and struggling Premier League giants United.

The 22-year-old Argentina international, whose agent has talked up interest from Barca in the past, has scored seven goals this term.

Asked about rumours that Barca and United are poised to activate Martinez's €111million release clause, Marotta told Sky Sport Italia: "This is all media talk.

"Our players are happy to be with us and a player must express its desire to leave if he wants to go. We don't tend to sell important players, Inter are a very important club.

"Of course, part of this job is to deal with situations as they present themselves."

Martinez, who arrived from Racing Club in 2018-19, has scored five Serie A goals this term and seven across all competitions for Antonio Conte's Inter.

Inter defeated Bologna 2-1 on Saturday to stay within a point of defending champions Juventus after 11 games.

Maurizio Sarri accepts Juventus could not be "beautiful" in a 1-0 Derby della Mole win at Torino due to their opponents' tactics and the state of the pitch.

Juve reclaimed top spot in the Serie A table from Inter thanks to a second-half strike from Matthijs de Ligt, the defender scoring his first goal for the club.

It was an underwhelming performance from the defending champions, who have now won on 10 of their past 11 visits to their city rivals, but head coach Sarri felt they were always likely to be short of their fluid best.

"This was a very difficult game and it was clear Torino would be extremely determined from the start," Sarri said to DAZN.

"So, the first phase of the plan was just to contain them and take control of the match later on, then close it towards the end.

"It was a tough game, full of intensity, physicality and tough tackling. It's not really suited to our characteristics, but we managed to get it done.

"This was not the game where we could try to be beautiful. The opposition's tactics, current form and the state of the pitch all meant we were forced to play with elements that are not our usual approach. 

"It's reassuring that we were able to win anyway."

Aaron Ramsey came off the bench in the second half but Sarri indicated the Wales midfielder is not yet fit enough to start matches.

"[Federico] Bernardeschi has more dynamism and forward runs, whereas Ramsey is better at passing," Sarri said.

"Ramsey was out injured for a month, but I don't feel he has 90 minutes in his legs. It is good to have players who can come off the bench and change gears.

"De Ligt struggled in the first 20 minutes, but then got into the game and had a very good second half.

"Alex Sandro seemed a little tired and it was only right to give him some rest.

"Mattia De Sciglio had been out for a while, so he was a little rusty, but once he too got into the rhythm, he did better."

Matthijs de Ligt said it was special to open his Juventus account with a Derby della Mole winner against Torino that sent the champions back to the top of the Serie A table.

De Ligt has been criticised for some erratic displays since joining from Ajax but the Netherlands centre-back came up with a crucial second-half goal in a 1-0 victory in Saturday's clash.

He turned home from close range after substitute Gonzalo Higuain knocked a corner into his path to help Juve reclaim top spot from Inter, who won 2-1 at Bologna earlier in the day.

"I am really happy, of course," De Ligt said to DAZN.

"It was a really important game, as Inter won also. We won 1-0 and it was my goal, so [it was] really special."

De Ligt was arguably fortunate not to concede a penalty for handball in the first half, but the defender feels referee Daniele Doveri made the right decision not to point to the spot.

"I am just standing like this and the ball hit me," he said. 

"I knew immediately it was not a penalty, because the rules are if my arms are down here, it's not a penalty."

De Ligt is confident he is starting to grow into his surroundings after finding the transition a little challenging following his move from Ajax for an initial fee of €75million.

"Obviously, when you come to a new club, it's always going to be hard," the 20-year-old added.

"It's going well, the guys made me feel welcome and I think I'm improving every game.

"I hope that I showed tonight what I can bring to the team.

"My team-mates are really nice, Higuain gave me an amazing assist and I'm really happy."

Matthijs de Ligt scored his first Juventus goal as the Serie A champions earned a 1-0 win at rivals Torino in the Derby della Mole.

The start of De Ligt's Juve career has not been easy but the Netherlands centre-back had a moment to remember in the 70th minute of a bad-tempered clash on Saturday.

Juve had been unable to break the deadlock but when Gonzalo Higuain knocked a corner into his path, De Ligt showed a striker's instinct to break Salvatore Sirigu's resistance.

Victory moved Juve back to the top of the Serie A table above Inter, with the Bianconeri now having won on 10 of their past 11 league visits to Torino.

With Walter Mazzarri seeking his first win over Juventus since 2011, handball appeals were rejected in both penalty areas during a stodgy opening.

Juve took until the 32nd minute to create a clear chance, Paulo Dybala dancing into the box but placing his shot too close to Sirigu, the Torino goalkeeper then making a comfortable save to keep out Cristiano Ronaldo's snapshot.

The pressure in Torino's box grew in the minutes before half-time, Sirigu showing strong reactions when Matthijs de Ligt diverted Ronaldo's cross-shot at goal.

Sirigu made another smart stop to keep out Ronaldo in the 56th minute, diving low to his right, before Maurizio Sarri replaced Dybala with Higuain.

The substitute's stunning volley was tipped on to the crossbar in sensational fashion by Sirigu, but the goalkeeper was beaten from the resulting corner as De Ligt turned home from close range.

Wojciech Szczesny prevented Cristian Ansaldi giving the hosts a rapid response as Juve closed out yet another derby victory to pile more pain on Torino, who had an injury-time equaliser from Bremer rightly ruled out for offside.

What does it mean? Juventus back on top

Romelu Lukaku's late double at Bologna earlier in the day sent Antonio Conte's Inter top of the table but Juve regained the summit with their hard-fought victory.

Mazzarri's days in charge of Torino may be numbered as his side have only taken two points from their past six league games, leaving them 13th in the table.

Sirigu heroics in vain

Torino's goalkeeper produced a wonderful performance between the posts, but it was not enough to keep a clean sheet against the attacking might of the champions. Sirigu's save to keep out Higuain's terrific strike was superb, but he was beaten moments later.

Dybala unable to unlock the door

Argentina attacker Dybala went into the derby in good form, with three goals in his past three games for Juve, but he was far from his best and only managed to get one of his three shots on target. It was no surprise to see him make way in Sarri's first change.

What's next?

Juve go to Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday before hosting AC Milan in the league four days later. Torino will seek their first win since September when they head to struggling Brescia on Saturday.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic joining Bologna is a real possibility, according to the Serie A club's sporting director Walter Sabatini.

Ibrahimovic is set to become one of world football's most in-demand free agents with his LA Galaxy contract set to expire next month.

The MLS side are keen to extend their association with the former Sweden striker, who has suggested on social media he could return to Spain.

A-League club Perth Glory are among the teams to have confirmed their interest in Ibrahimovic, who has also been heavily linked with Napoli and a possible return to Manchester United.

It appears Bologna are also keen on the 38-year-old.

"Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Bologna is a real possibility," Sabatini told Sky Sport Italia. "Trust me, it's not impossible.

"He's considering our offer because he wants to help Sinisa Mihajlovic.

"We're trying to make it possible. It'd be fantastic. Let's see..."

Bologna 12th in the Serie A table with one win in their past eight league games after Saturday's 2-1 home loss to Inter.

Mihajlovic, the club's coach, has been undergoing treatment for leukaemia after confirming his diagnosis in July.

Ibrahimovic, whose former clubs also include Ajax, Inter, Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain, has hit 53 goals in 58 MLS games for Galaxy.

Inter head coach Antonio Conte believes his side's fighting spirit will help sustain their efforts to challenge Juventus for the Serie A title.

Conte's side came back from a goal down at Bologna on Saturday to clinch a 2-1 victory which kept the pressure up on defending champions Juventus.

Romelu Lukaku secured the points for Inter with an injury-time penalty after he had earlier cancelled out Roberto Soriano's opening goal for the hosts, moving Conte's men top and two points clear of Juve, who have played a match less.

Conte told Sky Sport Italia: "Our objective was to become credible, to emerge with a shirt soaked through with sweat. We are achieving that.

"I knew that this job was a very, very difficult challenge for me in many ways.

"I like to seek out something tough, as my history speaks for itself, I always arrived in critical moments for top clubs and with hard work took them back to where they deserved.

"I did that at Juventus and at Chelsea, I hope with hard work to do the same at Inter.

"What makes me happy is working with a group of great lads who give everything and today they didn't let their heads drop or negative thinking to set in.

"The lads showed great inner strength to fight back and turn it around. We can be proud of what we're achieving this season."

Conte has urged his players to simply ignore Juventus' results and instead only concentrate efforts on what they can influence.

"We need to focus on ourselves and not think about what anyone else is doing," Conte said.

"We must work on improving ourselves and sending these signs to above all our fans.

"It's an excellent sign, because it can be too easy to judge when things are going well.

"A team that reacts to difficulties and turns them into a victory is a great sign."

Conte was also impressed with the manner in which Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez linked up.

Belgium international Lukaku took his tally to nine goals in 11 Serie A matches for Inter with that brace.

Although Martinez did not get on the scoresheet, his rapport with Lukaku on the pitch caught the eye.

"Potentially they can be the Inter partnership for another 10 years," added Conte.

"I had studied Lautaro a little before coming here. He is a centre-forward, but at the same time also a second striker, so he's atypical.

"Lukaku is an unusual striker too, because he has this physicality of a centre-forward, but if you give him space to run into, he is devastatingly fast.

"Above all I'm happy with the work they are both doing off the ball."

Romelu Lukaku was Inter's hero, converting an injury-time penalty for his second goal of the game as Antonio Conte's men came from behind to beat Bologna 2-1 at Stadio Renato Dall'Ara.

Despite enjoying the better of the first half, title-chasing Inter looked set to drop points when Roberto Soriano opened the scoring in the 59th minute, courtesy of a shot that took a deflection off Stefan de Vrij.

However, Lukaku pulled the Nerazzurri level with 15 minutes remaining, pouncing to convert a rebound from a tight angle.

And the striker held his nerve from the penalty spot to secure three points after strike partner Lautaro Martinez had been clumsily fouled by Riccardo Orsolini.

Bologna's players and coaching staff were left furious by the decision to award Inter a spot-kick, soon after former Inter forward Rodrigo Palacio had seen an appeal of his own turned down at the other end, but Inter will not care after they claimed their ninth win from 11 league games to reclaim top spot ahead of Juventus' clash with Torino.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.