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Crotone stall Lazio’s Champions League ambitions

Rome (AFP) – Lazio were held to a 2-2 draw by lowly Crotone on Sunday and now host Inter Milan next week in a decisive final day battle for Champions League football.

In the match of the day, Juventus are at Roma later Sunday in a clash which could see the Turin giants be crowned Serie A champions for a seventh consecutive season.

Juventus need just a point to seal the Scudetto even if second-placed Napoli lose at Sampdoria.

Roma, in third, are assured of their Champions League berth next season after Inter Milan lost 2-1 to Sassuolo at the San Siro on Saturday.

There was a lot at stake for both Lazio — bidding to seal elite European action — and Crotone who desperately needed a result to move away from the relegation zone.

Lazio have been hit by the injury of top Serie A scorer Ciro Immobile, but the Romans nevertheless took the lead when Senad Lulic converted a penalty on 17 minutes after he was fouled in the box by Mario Sampirisi.

Nigerian forward Simy grabbed the equaliser after half and hour for the southerners with Federico Ceccherini adding a second after the break.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic grabbed a point for Lazio six minutes from the whistle to leave their fortunes down to next week’s showdown in the Stadio Olimpico.

Lazio are three points ahead of fifth-placed Inter and will go through with a draw. 

A win would give Inter the berth and send Lazio into the Europa League.

“It’s a big missed opportunity,” said Lulic. “Now it’s all the play for on the last day against Inter.

“We can make it, but it’s a pity that we let in two goals today. We know what we have to do.

“Now we need to see whether any injured players come back. We deserve the Champions League, it would be a shame to throw it all away now.”

Meanwhile, AC Milan who are sixth can assure their spot in the second-tier Europa League later Sunday with a win at rivals Atalanta, who are just one point below them.

Crotone are third from bottom, but five teams are involved in a battle to the wire to avoid joining Verona and Benevento in Serie B.

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