Soccer

Balotelli scores twice on debut as AC Milan beats Udinese

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Associated Press
2/3/2013 5:55:38 PM
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ROME -- Mario Balotelli marked his return to Serie A by scoring both goals -- including the winner in added time -- in AC Milan's 2-1 win over Udinese on Sunday.

Balotelli gave Milan the lead in the 25th minute at the San Siro by redirecting a cross from Stephen El Shaarawy at the edge of the box with one touch. Then after Giampiero Pinzi had brought Udinese level in the 55th, Balotelli put Milan back in front with a penalty four minutes into injury time.

"Playing for Milan was my dream and I'll do everything possible to win in the face of those who thought I wasn't worthy of Milan," said Balotelli, who grew up cheering for the Rossoneri.

After cooly kicking in the winner, Balotelli held his arms out wide toward the crowd, as if saying, "Here I am."

"Balotelli is a first-rate star," said Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani, who orchestrated the Italy striker's transfer from Manchester City.

The win moved Milan level with its city rival and Balotelli's former club Inter Milan in fourth place, 12 points behind Italian league leader Juventus.

Earlier Sunday, Juventus won 2-1 at Chievo Verona to move three points clear of Napoli again.

Juventus striker Alessandro Matri scored 10 minutes in at the Bentegodi stadium with a spectacular volley and midfielder Stephan Lichtsteiner doubled the lead in the 42nd after receiving a backheel pass from Sebastian Giovinco.

Cyril Thereau pulled one back for Chievo in the 52nd.

On Saturday, Napoli beat Catania 2-0 to provisionally draw level with Juventus, marking the first time in 23 years the southern club had been in first place at this point in the season.

Juventus led Napoli by 10 points just a few weeks ago, but the Turin squad had struggled in recent matches.

"This is definitely a very important victory for the squad, because in January, in part due to bad luck, we lost a few too many points," Lichtsteiner said. "We showed that even if we struggled a bit, we were able to bring home these three points."

Elsewhere, third-placed Lazio lost 3-2 at Genoa, where Marco Rigoni scored the winner in the fifth minute of added time with a header.

Marco Borriello and Andrea Bertollacci had scored for Genoa in the 16th and 22nd and Sergio Floccari and Stefano Mauri -- with a penalty -- replied for Lazio in the 58th and 82nd.

The result left Lazio nine points behind Juventus.

Meanwhile, Inter lost 3-1 at Siena.

Innocent Emeghara, who just signed on loan from French club Lorient, gave Siena the lead in the 21st. Antonio Cassano quickly equalized for Inter in the 22nd but Alessio Sestu restored Siena's lead four minutes later and Alessandro Rosina added a penalty for the hosts in the 56th.

Fiorentina moved provisionally into fifth with a 2-0 win over Parma, with goals from Luca Toni and Stevan Jovetic.

In other matches, Atalanta won 2-1 at last-placed Palermo and Bologna won 3-2 at Pescara.

Mario Balotelli (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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