Mario Balotelli scored and threatened to storm off the field due to racist abuse, but his Brescia were still beaten 2-1 by high-flying Verona.
Koray Gunter pulled out with flu, so Empereur made his Serie A debut, while Salvatore Bocchetti, Giampaolo Pazzini, Emmanuel Badu, Daniel Bessa were still injured. Brescia missed Daniele Dessena, Jhon Chancellor and Ernesto Torregrossa, but Jasse Joronen returned in goal.
The situation got worse for Verona and their defender shortage when Marash Kumbulla seemed to suffer a thigh strain just 16 minutes in.
Brescia immediately had a triple chance, as Dimitri Bisoli’s looping header was cleared off the line by Rrahmani, then Mario Balotelli and Sandro Tonali follow-ups blocked.
Balotelli had another great opportunity on 25 minutes, his free kick sweeping towards the far top corner, but bouncing off the upright.
There was a moment of chaos on the half-hour mark. Mangraviti, already on a yellow card, brought down Eddie Salcedo and the referee opted for a Verona penalty with second booking for the Brescia defender. However, after an on-field VAR review, he acknowledged that not only did Mangraviti get the ball, but the challenge was outside the box anyway, so the penalty and red card were revoked.
There was yet more controversy on the stroke of half-time, as Romulo seemed to be tripped by Marco Davide Faraoni. The referee waved play on, but replays show it was a foul, albeit inches outside the penalty area, so VAR could not intervene.
Verona took the lead after the restart with teenager Eddie Salcedo’s debut Serie A goal. The forward on loan from Inter, born in 2002, got his head to a corner and the looping result might’ve been thanks to a deflection off Bruno Martella.
Play had to be halted soon after, as Balotelli heard racist abuse from the Hellas Verona supporters and reacted with understandable fury. He kicked the ball into the stands and started to storm off the pitch. Teammates and opponents tried to calm the Italy international and the referee enacted the new protocol by stopping play for a few minutes while a statement was read out over the speaker warning of a longer suspension if the chants continued. Sadly, it is not the first time Hellas Verona ultras have been responsible for racist insults.
When play did resume, Balotelli drilled a free kick through the wall, forcing a tricky Marco Silvestri save. Balotelli had another great opportunity, but only hit a fresh-air volley from 12 yards.
Verona made the most of sluggish Romulo defending to double their lead. Mattia Zaccagni was allowed to run riot down the left and pull back for Matteo Pessina’s snooker shot from 10 yards into the far bottom corner.
However, Balotelli got some revenge on the Verona fans when scoring a sensational goal to put Brescia back in it. He curled an unstoppable right-foot strike into the far top corner from outside the box.
It set up a very tense finale with Brescia pouring forward in waves, but Alessandro Matri let himself go down far too easily when under pressure and penalty appeals were waved away.
After the final whistle, Matri was sent off for insulting the referee.
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Sent off: Matri (S, after the final whistle)