Mario Balotelli scored a brace, including a hugely controversial penalty with the last kick of the game, to beat Udinese 2-1 on his Milan debut.
The fans were celebrating in the streets this week when Balotelli arrived from Manchester City for €20m. He was meant to start from the bench, but was promoted after Giampaolo Pazzini had a muscular problem in the warm-up. Philippe Mexes, Mattia De Sciglio and Nigel De Jong were injured, while Christian Abbiati and Kevin-Prince Boateng suffered from flu symptoms. Udinese missed Zeljko Brkic and Emmanuel Badu, but moved to a four-man defence.
Incredibly, within 35 seconds of his debut, SuperMario had burst past two players and his angled drive clipped the outside of the far post!
Balotelli then slipped a smart reverse pass through for Mbaye Niang, whose angled drive forced a desperate save with Daniele Padelli’s outstretched foot. The move continued, but the flag was up.
Luis Muriel went on the counter and should’ve rolled it across for Gianpiero Pinzi, but instead went for goal with a weak finish.
Stephan El Shaarawy’s looping header landed on the roof of the net, but the script was set and it had to be Balotelli who broke the deadlock.
El Shaarawy got to the by-line down the left and pulled back for Balotelli to control and smash an angled drive that bounced off the ground past Padelli. SuperMario grinned and saluted the San Siro crowd.
It was so nearly 2-0 when Balotelli unleashed an absolute screamer from distance that Padelli flew to flap out from the far top corner.
Padelli was at full stretch to intercept a dangerous Balotelli cross for Niang, then Mathieu Flamini just failed to get on the end of another El Shaarawy assist.
After the restart El Shaarawy curled over and was set up by Balotelli for another effort that was saved. Udinese finally threatened with Andrea Lazzari’s cross-field pass that Antonio Di Natale volleyed over as it came off his shin when he came sliding in at the back post.
It was a warning and moments later the Friulani equalised. Di Natale flicked on with his head in the centre-circle to spark a counter-attack and Luis Muriel rolled across for Pinzi to fire in with a deflection off Cristian Zapata.
Balotelli’s shot was held after he turned between a crowd of players, then Riccardo Montolivo tripped when trying to clear and was fortunate Gabriel Silva chipped over the empty net. Max Allegri opted for a very attacking move, introducing Bojan Krkic for midfielder Antonio Nocerino.
Balotelli at full stretch could only volley a deflected Niang cross over, as Thomas Heurtaux got a crucial touch. Niang fired wide after exchanging passes with El Shaarawy, but the French teen had a fantastic opportunity on 77 minutes when his scorching volley from the edge of the box smacked against the crossbar. It’s possible Dusan Basta got a glancing touch to turn it out of the net.
Bojan also skimmed the woodwork and Balotelli had timid penalty appeals for a Maurizio Domizzi push, but Alexander Merkel hesitated and failed to make the most of a defensive error just moments after coming off the bench.
Padelli got down well to push a Balotelli free kick round the base of the far post, but Basta blasted off target on a dangerous counter-attack. Montolivo’s daisy-cutter whizzed wide in the final minutes.
It seemed to be coming to a close when at the 92nd minute El Shaarawy burst into the box and Heurtaux appeared to make a clean tackle, but the referee pointed to the spot.
Naturally, Balotelli stepped up to take it with the final kick of the game and scored, side-footing it to send Padelli the wrong way and confirming his career status of never having missed a penalty.
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