Milan (AFP) – 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 on Sunday.
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 on Monday.
Immobile struck the winner after 91 minutes having also converted from the penalty spot before the break.
Felipe Caicedo had the ball in the back of the net early for Lazio off 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.
– Balotelli insults –
Balotelli was targeted by insulting chants from Lazio fans with the referee interrupting the game in the first half and an announcement made that play would be suspended if they continued.
Brescia fans tried to drown out the insults with whistles and cheering which Balotelli applauded.
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 “black”.
Relegation-threatened Brescia were hit after Andrea Cistana was sent off for a second yellow card after bringing down Caicedo just before the break.
And Serie A top scorer Immobile pulled Lazio back on level terms from the penalty spot on 42 minutes.
Lazio dominated the second half with Immobile bringing his league tally to 19 goals connecting with a Caicedo cross to fire in the injury time winner.
It was the 12th time this season that the team have scored a late winner.
Inzaghi meanwhile equals Sven Goran Eriksson’s record of nine consecutive league wins set in the 1998-99 season.
“We will try to continue like this. We absolutely want to hit the Champions League,” said Inzaghi, whose side defeated Juventus to lift the Italian SuperCup trophy last month.
Inter Milan recommence the title battle with Juventus on Monday, with both sides level on 42 points after 17 games.
Antonio Conte’s side travel to Napoli with Juventus at home against Cagliari.
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