Proud papa: Balotelli scores as daughter watches in Napoli

ANDREW DAMPF
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Italy Soccer Serie A

Brescia's Mario Balotelli holds his daughter Pia wearing a Napoli soccer team jersey, as he enters the pitch prior to the start of the Italian Serie A soccer match between Napoli and Brescia at the San Paolo stadium in Naples, Italy, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. (Cesare Abbate/ANSA Via AP)

ROME (AP) — Playing before friends and family members may be the biggest inspiration for Mario Balotelli at this point in his nomadic and controversy-filled career.

Having signed with Brescia after three years away from the Italian league, Balotelli plays his home matches a stone's throw from the house that he grew up in.

And on Sunday, Balotelli carried Pia, his six-year-old daughter, onto the field with him before Brescia's match at Napoli as the players lined up for the Serie A anthem.

His daughter lives in Naples with her Neapolitan mother and was wearing a Napoli uniform.

The hosts took a 2-0 lead through Dries Mertens and Kostas Manolas before the break but Balotelli took advantage of his imposing physique to head in from a corner midway through the second half and make it interesting right until the end of Napoli's 2-1 win.

"Mario is a player that you all know," Brescia coach Eugenio Corini said. "He arrived with a lot of motivation and he really seems to be bonding with the squad. He's a great player and I'll always expect something extra from him."

Balotelli missed the opening four matches of the season due to a four-match ban carried over from when he was at Marseille in the French league. He came close to scoring in his Brescia debut, a loss to Juventus on Tuesday.

Bouncing back from a highly disappointing midweek loss to Cagliari, fourth-place Napoli moved within one point of third-place Atalanta.

"We cannot concede a goal that way and always make it complicated for ourselves," Mertens said.

Both sides also had goals disallowed by VAR.

Brescia is 15th.

MILAN MESS

AC Milan coach Marco Giampaolo is at risk of losing his job after the Rossoneri lost 3-1 at home to Fiorentina for their third straight defeat and fourth in six rounds.

It's the first time since 1938-39 that Milan has lost four of its opening six matches.

Erick Pulgar put Fiorentina ahead early on with a penalty and Milan was reduced to 10 men after the break when VAR determined that a studs-up tackle by Mateo Musacchio into Franck Ribery's ankle deserved a red card.

Gaetano Castrovilli doubled Fiorentina's advantage by getting to a rebound, and Ribery fooled a pair of defenders to make it 3-0 after a poor penalty attempt from Federico Chiesa was saved by Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Rafael Leão slalomed past several defenders to pull one back in style for Milan's only real highlight.

Milan is 16th, one point above the relegation zone.

"I assume responsibility but I'll keep going because I believe in my ideas," Giampaolo said. "The thing that bothered me most was that the squad seemed like it showed up at San Siro without ever having trained together."

OTHER RESULTS

Roma is fifth, one point behind Napoli, after Edin Dzeko's header earned the Giallorossi a 1-0 victory at Lecce.

Lazio is one point further back in sixth after routing Genoa 4-0 with goals from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, ?tefan Radu, Felipe Caicedo and Ciro Immobile.

Also, Udinese beat Bologna with a first-half strike from Stefano Okaka; and Cagliari drew 1-1 with Hellas Verona as Lucas Castro and Davide Faraoni scored.

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