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U.S. star Altidore suffers racial abuse

January 30, 2013 -- Updated 0049 GMT (0849 HKT)
U.S. star Jozy Altidore was subjected to racial abuse during AZ Alkmaar's cup win at Den Bosch in the Netherlands.
U.S. star Jozy Altidore was subjected to racial abuse during AZ Alkmaar's cup win at Den Bosch in the Netherlands.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • U.S. star Jozy Altidore suffered racial abuse during Dutch cup game
  • The AZ Alkmaar player was subjected to racist chanting during match at Den Bosch
  • Referee suspended match during the first half and asked Den Bosch to make announcement over loudspeaker
  • Match resumed after brief delay and Altidore scored in 5-0 win

(CNN) -- U.S. star Jozy Altidore has said he will "pray" for those who subjected him to racist abuse during a Dutch cup game Tuesday.

The 23-year-old American international was the target of racist chanting during AZ Alkmaar's 5-0 win at nine-man Den Bosch.

Referee Reinold Wiedemeijer suspended the game during the first half following "jungle sounds chanted at Altidore," according to AZ's official twitter feed. But AZ players, including Altidore, persuaded him not to.

Wiedemeijer asked host club Den Bosch to put a message over the public address system, warning the crowd he would stop the match if the abuse carried on.

The contest was also briefly stopped after the interval after home fans threw snowballs at the linesmen.

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Altidore was adamant the game should not be stopped and in a post-match interview with Dutch television he explained his stance.

He said: "It's a bit disappointing that these things still happen at this time but what are you going to do?

"You just have to hope that these people find a way to improve themselves. You can only pray for them.

"I feel like as a football player that I have an obligation, to my team, to my club, to my family to not react to things like this.

"I want to show them that club stands better than that and that I was raised better than that than respond to such ridiculous behaviour.

"It's a bit disappointing because you would hope as human beings that humanity can grow from these types of times.

"But at the end of the day, it's still alive racism and all we can do is try and educate ourselves and the young kids coming up to be better than that.

"All I can do is pray for them and hope they become better people."

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Altidore, who scored from the penalty spot during the contest, also insisted he would not rise to those who had insulted him from the stands.

He added: "I'm not going to fight them. They just have some issues and need some help. You can only pray for them and hope they get better.

"We were in a good rhythm and it was important for us to keep going. I think we started the New Year right and you have to look at the bigger picture."

AZ soccer director and former U.S. midfield player Earnier Stewart, also spoke of his disgust, telling Dutch television's Eredivisie Live: "It is terribly sad that this can happen for those involved and for lovers of football in the Netherlands.

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"You hear that and wonder what on earth is going on.''

Stewart also revealed that Den Bosch officials are "ashamed'' of the fans involved. The club told fans to stop the chants over the public address system, but that failed to stop a small section of supporters.

Alkmaar player Viktor Elm added: "The fans that misbehaved towards Altidore should be ashamed.

"I, like everybody else, am really disappointed in these supporters. It is a bad time for professional football. It is not something I have experienced in my career before.

"Jozy handled it really well. He has not been tempted to respond. He was emotional after his penalty."

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Meanwhile, in Italy, Lazio booked its place in the final of the Coppa Italia courtesy of a 2-1 win over Juventus.

With the tie poised at 1-1 following last week's first leg in Turin, Lazio took the lead through Alvaro Gonzalez's header.

The home side looked set for its first final since 2009, but Juventus grabbed a dramatic equalizer in the 91st minute when Arturo Vidal lashed home.

The tie looked destined for extra-time, but with just seconds remaining, Sergio Floccari netted a late winner to take Lazio through.

Vladimir Petkovic's side will now face city rival Roma or Inter Milan in the final.

Sink or swim for 'Super Mario'?

In the English Premier League, Manchester City endured a frustrating night as it was held to a goalless draw by bottom of the table QPR.

On a day dominated by speculation linking City striker Mario Balotelli with a move to AC Milan, manager Roberto Mancini might have hoped for a victory to concentrate on instead.

But his side was unable to find a way past a stubborn and determined Rangers defense, which managed to hold on for a precious point in its fight against relegation.

Instead, Mancini was left to focus on the impending departure of the enigmatic Balotelli, who is set to undergo a medical at Milan Wednesday before completing a move to Italy.

Mancini told Sky Sports News: "He had this big chance to come back to Italy and play for another top club like Milan.

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"I hope Mario can continue to improve and show he's always ready because I think he can, if he works hard, continue growing and become one of the best players in the world.

"It's important for Mario to be in Italy with his family. I think that would be good for him."

Aston Villa's nightmare run of form continued with a 2-1 home defeat by Newcastle.

Villa, which had suffered consecutive defeats by a lower league opposition in its previous two matches, now sits in the relegation zone.

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Paul Lambert's team has failed to win a Premier League game since December 15 and has taken one point from a possible 18.

On this occasion, it gave itself an uphill task after falling two goals behind early on to a Newcastle team also struggling at the wrong end of the table.

Papiss Cisse and Yohan Cabaye both scored within the first 31 minutes to give Newcastle a comfortable halftime advantage.

Villa pulled one back four minutes after the interval through Christian Benteke's penalty, but it couldn't prevent Newcastle from claiming a first away win of the league season.

In the night's other games, Sunderland held Swansea to a goalless draw while Wigan came from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Stoke.

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