Lukaku sends Inter to the top after racist abuse in Cagliari

Milan, September 2 (AFP) Italian football was involved in another racism storm on Sunday when Romelu Lukaku was targeted by monkey songs before placing Inter Milan on top of Serie A with the winning penalty on his 2-1 win in Cagliari.

Lukaku, a summer signing of 65 million euros (73 million dollars) from Manchester United, was preparing to kick in the 71st minute in Sardinia when racist songs came from the crowd that continued for several seconds.

The 26-year-old Belgian international looked angrily into the stands before confidently converting his second goal into the same number of games, which came after Lautaro Martínez's first 28-minute goal for Antonio Conte's team and Joao's leveler Pedro for the hosts four minutes after the break.

Lukaku was quickly surrounded by his teammates when Inter won their second of two league games to sit in front of the Juventus champions, who are also at peak points after their exciting 4-3 victory over Napoli on Saturday.

Racist chasing has pursued Italian stadiums in recent years, with Italian striker Moise Kean also victim of similar abuses, along with teammate Blaise Matuidi, in Cagliari after scoring a goal there for his former Juventus team last April .

Kalidou Koulibaly received a shower of monkey songs last season by new Lukaku fans in San Siro, while other black players were attacked.

I didn't listen (the songs), Conte said.

However, I can speak in general: I think we should improve in Italy, respect everyone.

When working abroad, fans encouraged their own team, they did not spend all their time insulting the opponent. I was fine here, nobody insulted me.

Torino is right next to Inter and his local rivals Juve after surprising Atalanta 3-2, while Lazio lost the opportunity to keep up with that trio after drawing a 1-1 derby in Rome.

Aleksandar Kolarov put Rome ahead in the 17th minute against the game streak with a well-taken penalty, but Luis Alberto grabbed the draw just before the time set to leave Paulo Fonseca without a victory as the new head of Rome.

- 'Extraordinary show' -

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Lazio lost several opportunities to seal a second victory of his two initial games, hitting the wood four times with Rome shaking the goal frame twice. The biggest regret of the hosts was the 92-minute strike by Manuel Lazzari that was ruled out for offside.

There is a bit of bitterness. We had 21 shots on target, we hit the wood four times and a goal was ruled out, said Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi.

We had many opportunities and you have to win games like that. We offered an extraordinary spectacle for the public and a great emotion for me as a coach, in my first derby in Rome, Fonseca said.

The derby took place amid increased security after the murder of former Lazio ultras chief, Fabrizio Piscitelli, nicknamed Diabolik, who was shot dead in the capital last month.

Piscitelli was for almost 30 years the head of the unconditional fan group Irriducibili (Die Hards) of Lazio, who is known for his far-right policy. Lazio fans displayed a banner in his honor before the game with Rest in Peace Fabrizio.

Torino is also at peak points after his return to Atalanta, who qualified for this season's Champions League by finishing third last season.

Kevin Bonifazi had put Torino forward after 24 minutes before double Duvan Zapata on each side of the break for Atalanta.

But Alex Berenguer got Torino back to the level in 57 minutes with Armando Izzo nodding at the winner in 66 minutes. Fiorentina fell to its second consecutive 2-1 defeat in Genoa, as did Sampdoria, who was beaten 4-1 in Sassuolo thanks to a Domenico Berardi hat-trick scored in 14 minutes of the first half. (AFP) APA APA

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