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Football: Bananas thrown at defender as Atalanta stun Milan

Fans hurled bananas at AC Milan's Guinean defender Kevin Constant on Sunday as his side's Europa League bid suffered a huge knock in a 2-1 defeat to Atalanta.

MILAN: Fans hurled bananas at AC Milan's Guinean defender Kevin Constant on Sunday as his side's Europa League bid suffered a huge knock in a 2-1 defeat to Atalanta.

The racist insult was the latest to hit a top European football league after a banana was thrown at Barcelona's Brazilian defender Dani Alves on April 27.

European football's governing body UEFA this week blasted racist attacks in Spain and called for action after fans subjected foreign players to monkey taunts and banana-throwing.

Alves calmly picked up the banana hurled at him by a Villarreal fan and bit a chunk out of it. But there were many protests by black players after the game.

Sunday's flashpoint came midway through the second half during a stoppage of play deep in Atalanta's half.

Constant picked up a banana that had been thrown in his direction to give to the referee, and as he did so another landed near Dutch teammate Nigel De Jong, who is of Surinamese-Indonesian descent.

De Jong and Milan's French defender Phillipe Mexes reacted with sarcastic applause.

Coach Clarence Seedorf called for the banana-throwers to be banned for life, but applauded his players' reaction.

"I don't there's too much I can say," Seedorf told Sky Sport.

"It's an unfortunate incident that, thanks to the lads' professionalism, did not affect them for the rest of the game.

"I hope that whoever was responsible will be banned from attending matches for life."

Milan's defeat, however, may have confirmed Seedorf's anticipated departure from the club at the end of the season amid reports he has failed to win over owner and president Silvio Berlusconi despite dragging the Rossoneri away from the league doldrums.

Milan travelled to Bergamo looking to build on the 1-0 derby win over Inter last week that put them firmly in contention for a place in the Europa League.

The visitors looked to be heading for a share of the spoils after home striker German Denis levelled for the hosts from the spot barely a quarter hour after Gianpaolo Bellini had put the ball past his own 'keeper Andrea Consigli to give Milan a 1-0 lead.

However Milan were stunned in the sixth minute of added-on time when substitute Franco Brienza sent an unstoppable shot past Christian Abbiati in the visitors' net.

Milan dropped one place to ninth behind fellow Europa League chasers Verona, held 2-2 by Udinese on Saturday, and Parma, who are away to Torino later Sunday.

This season, the sixth-placed finisher in Serie A will also qualify for Europa via the Italian Cup, won by Napoli over Fiorentina last week.

Inter qualified for Europe's second tier competition with a 4-1 win at home to Lazio on Saturday and Fiorentina, currently fourth, have already secured their spot.

There is now only one place up for grabs. Torino could secure the third and final place with an away victory at Parma that would give them a four-point lead over Parma, Verona and Milan with one game remaining.

Seedorf added: "It's a shame about the result, but we have to wait and see what happens in Torino v Parma. We gave it everything and you can't ask more.

"I'm not looking ahead any further than our final game next week and finishing the season as best as we can.

"I am giving 100 percent, so my conscience is clear."

Juventus secured their third consecutive scudetto last weekend and are away to Roma, second and 11 points adrift, later in the day.

A win would see Antonio Conte's visitors amass 99 points and thus beat Inter's Serie A record of 97 for their title-winning 2007 season, with one game in the season remaining.

Roma are assured of the second automatic Champions League qualifying spot while Napoli, away to Sampdoria, will play in next season's competition if they successfully negotiate the qualifying stages.

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