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Chants halt play as Lazio and Sparta Prague draw in first leg


Sparta Prague and Lazio could not be split in a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 clash.

Sparta went ahead early in the first half but Lazio hit back before half-time to get an important away goal which means it is all to play for in the second leg next week.

Play was briefly stopped in the first half after players appeared upset by alleged racist chanting from Lazio fans but play soon got back under way.

The only remaining Italian representatives in the Europa League got off to a poor start with their defence looking distracted and it did not take long for Prague to make the most of it.

Martin Frydek's tremendous half-volley, just 13 minutes into the game, put the home side in the lead but Lazio responded after the restart.

Antonio Candreva almost scored a superb goal but goalkeeper David Bicik's impressive save pushed the ball out for a corner, from which Marco Parolo slid in to end Sparta's run of 303 minutes without conceding a European goal.

Lazio's Abdoulay Konko went off injured at half-time and the visitors' night got worse when his replacement Dusan Basta was injured just 20 minutes after coming on and was forced off, with both right-backs now doubtful for the second leg.

The second 45 minutes of the match had relatively few chances but it was Lazio who came closest when Candreva hit the bar with a right-footed shot from the right side of the box.

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