Lazio dismiss 'psychosis' as racist, anti-Semitic chants scar Coppa Italia

Milan (AFP) –


Lazio were embroiled in controversy on Saturday after racist and anti-Semitic chanting which scarred a Coppa Italia tie was dismissed by the club as a "psychosis focusing on a minority or non-existent incidents".

Lazio crushed third division Novara 4-1 in their last-16 game at Rome's Stadio Olimpico.

However, their hardcore ultra fans aimed a series of ugly barbs at the club's bitter city rivals AS Roma, with taunts of "Yellow, red and Jewish" and "This Roma that looks like Africa".

They also targeted police who clashed with Lazio fans on Wednesday at Piazza della Liberta in the capital when celebrations to mark the club's 119th anniversary turned violent.

Eight police were injured and four supporters arrested.

Lazio spokesman Arturo Diaconale blasted reports of the chanting by a small section of the crowd as "a psychosis".

"I am one of the 98 percent of people in the stadium who didn't hear them," he said.

"The club naturally condemns any racist or anti-Semitic chants .. I think it's a form of psychosis focusing on either a minority or non-existent incidents."

On the pitch, Ciro Immobile scored a first half double, after Luis Alberto's 12th-minute opener with Sergej Milinkovic-Savic claiming the fourth before the break.

Umberto Eusepi pulled a goal back for Novara, a third division side based 50km west of Milan, from the penalty spot just after the break.

Lazio, who won the last of their six Coppa Italia trophies in 2013, will next play either Inter Milan or Benevento in the quarter-finals.

In Genoa, AC Milan progressed to the quarter-finals with a 2-0 extra-time win over Samprdoria.

Brazilian international Lucas Paqueta started for Milan after his arrival from Flamengo in a 35-million-euro ($40 million) deal last week, along with want-away Argentine Gonzalo Higuain amid speculation he is about to move to Chelsea.

Higuain thought he had scored but was ruled offside as the game went into extra time just days before Gennaro Gattuso's side take on Juventus in the Italian Super Cup final in Saudi Arabia.

Patrick Cutrone came on as a substitute in extra time with his two superb volleys on 102 and 108 minutes setting up a meeting for last year's finalists with either Napoli or Sassuolo.

"We're in good shape and will try to prepare as best we can," said Cutrone of next Wednesday's game in Jeddah.

Juventus begin their quest for a fifth consecutive Coppa Italia later on Saturday at Bologna.