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FOOTBALL

Roma stun Lazio in fiery city derby

A late glancing header from defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa earned Roma a stunning 2-1 victory over Lazio in a fiery city derby on Monday to secure the Giallorossi's automatic entry to the Champions League.

Roma stun Lazio in fiery city derby
Roma's defender from France Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa celebrates a goal with Roma's midfielder from Belgium Radja Nianggolan. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Hosts Lazio looked to have salvaged a share of the spoils at the Stadio Olimpico when late substitute Filip Djordjevic headed Miroslav Klose's headed cutback past Morgan Da Sanctis in the Roma goal to level Juan Iturbe's 73rd minute opener for the visitors.

A draw would have secured at least a third-place finish for Lazio and a place in the Champions League play-offs.

But Yanga-Mbiwa turned the match on its head with a glancing header from a free kick five minutes from time to secure the points for Rudi Garcia's side.

The result leaves Roma in second place, 16 points behind recently-crowned champions Juventus but four ahead of Lazio with one game remaining this season.

“Our objective this season was to qualify directly for the Champions League, and we've achieved that,” Garcia told reporters.

“Obviously when you win like this, having conceded a late leveller like we did, it only adds value to all the work we've done in recent weeks to prepare for this game.”

Lazio remain third but Stefano Pioli's men, who sit three points ahead of Napoli, now require a point from their trip to Naples in their final game of the campaign next week, when Roma host Palermo.

“Today it's only right we should hang our heads. We lost the game when we had ample opportunity to score goals,” Pioli told reporters after the match.

“Roma were better than us in the decisive moments. If we'd taken the lead when we had the opportunity to, it would have changed things tactically for us.

“We tried to play our game, and we put our opponents into difficulty but in the end we conceded to a team that were superior in terms of scoring goals.”

If unsuccessful, it would be a spectacular fall from grace for Lazio, who have been playing some of the best football in Italy's top flight since January.

But Pioli added: “We'll go to Napoli to fight for the result that we need.”

SEE ALSO: Football fans stabbed ahead of Rome derby

Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Lazio came into the derby with tired legs after a 2-1 Cup final defeat to Juventus last week and had a lightning start only to spurn two clear chances for an early lead.

Italy international Antonio Candreva forced a reflex save from Morgan De Sanctis from a tight angle and Roma survived a bigger scare moments later when nerves a poor Vasilis Torosidis clearance fell to Candreva, who delivered a perfect ball into the box as Klose ghosted in only to power a header wide of the right post.

Roma had little to offer in a shaky opening half and Lazio started just as strongly after the break, Dusan Basta pouncing on a poor headed clearance from Torosidis to fire low inches past De Sanctis's far post.

A Senad Lulic challenge on Francesco Totti which left the captain rolling on the ground was the first flash point of the second half and the defender, issued one of his side's three yellow cards in a feisty opening half, was lucky to escape a second caution.

He was replaced by Luis Cavanda soon after as Lazio kept the momentum, threatening just before the hour when Klose headed back into the area for Stefano Mauri to see his overhead kick blocked.

A tiring Totti came off for Victor Ibarbo, a move that would pay dividends for Garcia's men, the Colombian holding off his marker to sweep across goal for Iturbe to stab the ball past Federico Marchetti at the back post.

The stadium erupted eight minutes later when Djordjevic, who had replaced Mauri after 76 minutes, ran into the box to head Klose's header from the right byeline past a flailing De Sanctis after Felipe Anderson's cross in deep.

But with five minutes on the clock, Roma were given a lifeline when they won a free kick to the right of the Lazio area.

Miralem Pjanic stepped up to deliver and Yanga-Mbiwa rose unchallenged to see his glancing effort roll past Marchetti at the 'keeper's far post.

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FOOTBALL

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players’ ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome

Italy’s national football team reportedly insisted on taking an open-top bus tour through Rome to show off their European Championship trophy to crowds of fans - despite city authorities forbidding it amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players' ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The team’s bus parade through the city on Monday night following their Euro 2020 triumph “was not authorised”, according to Matteo Piantedosi the head of Rome’s prefettura (the public safety authority).

Thousands of fans packed the streets of central Rome to see the team celebrate their cup win after beating England on penalties in the final.

READ ALSO: ‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Piantedosi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday: “We had denied permission to celebrate Italy’s victory in the European Championships on the open bus, but the pact was not respected.”

Piantedosi, who is Rome’s top public security official, said police had “no choice” but to let the parade go ahead after players Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci insisted on it.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A meeting had been held on Friday with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to discuss plans for the celebrations if Italy won, said Piantedosi.

“I had agreed the line with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Chief of Police Lamberto Giannini,” he said.

“It was clearly explained that [the parade] was not possible. We said we could not authorize it.”

Piantedosi said the Italian football federation (FIGC) initially agreed to hold a “controlled” ceremony in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo instead of the parade.

After players insisted on the bus tour on Monday however, Piantedosi said, authorities reluctantly let them go ahead due to fears of sparking public disorder.

“At that point we had no choice but to acknowledge the situation and handle it in the best way we could,” he said.

READ ALSO: Covid cases on the rise in Europe once again as WHO warns of Euro 2020 risk

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIGC said it had acted responsibly but decided not to disappoint fans who had come to celebrate with the team.

Footage of large crowds thronging the bus carrying the ‘Azzurri’ and the European Championship trophy through the capital however fuelled concerns about new outbreaks of coronavirus, after Italy’s infection rate began to rise again last week.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that crowds and gatherings connected to football matches will fuel a new rise in cases across Europe this summer.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza also voiced concerns on Monday about the consequences of people gathering to watch sporting events.

He said the European football championship win was “a great joy after terrible months,” but “even in these moments of national pride we can’t forget that our ‘game’ to defeat Covid is not yet won.”

There are currently minimal health restrictions in place across Italy, however masks are supposed to be worn in crowded public places, including outdoors.

“Footage shows that police were virtually the only ones [in the crowd] wearing masks,” said Piantedosi.

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