“SuperMario” proved that he does have faults in his most recent match this Sunday. After being fouled in the area in the 61st minute, Balotelli was given a penalty shot from the spot. Fans at the San Siro stadium had no reason to hold their breaths – “SuperMario” had never missed a penalty shot in his 21 career attempts. Napoli goal-keeper, Pepe Reina, had something to say about that Sunday, however.
All the pressure was on Reina. Napoli had been able to take an early 2-0 lead over AC Milan with goals by Miguel Britos and Gonzalo Higuain in the 6th and 53rd minutes, respectively. If Napoli could hold onto the lead, it would be the first time they had defeated Milan at San Siro since 1986.
Reina had spent much of his free-time before the match on Sunday studying Balotelli’s approach. If the goal-keeper was able to identify key patterns in the way Balotelli approached penalty shots, he would be able to read his tell and become the first goalie to stop one of “SuperMario’s” shots. That is exactly what happened Sunday.
However, Balotelli was not about to let his failure affect his performance for the rest of the game. Following his missed penalty shot, Balotelli smashed a shot off the crossbar during a 1 on 2 effort, had another shot turned away by Reina, and attempted to draw another penalty in the box late in the game. Balotelli’s efforts finally paid off in injury time, when he dropped in a curl from 25 meters in the 91st minute.
Following the game, however, Balotelli would suffer another failure. After the contest was over, Balotelli picked up his second yellow card for arguing with the official. The yellow cards resulted in a 3 game ban, one automatic and the other two for “directing insulting and intimidating expressions to the referee at the time of the sending-off.” Team manager of Milan, Massimiliano Allegri, was not happy with Balotelli’s outburst:
When games are over, it’s better to stay quiet and I am against hysteria. It’s best to shut up and leave rather than stay there arguing with the referee, as it’s not going to change anything. Balotelli needs to improve that. He received a fair few kicks, including many from behind, though he overall had a good game. Of course you’ve got to be angry at the final whistle [after losing], but you’ve got to remain serene. Hysterical outbursts don’t help at all. After the final whistle, you’ve got to shut up, otherwise you only do harm.
Balotelli’s actions were not the only drama in Sunday’s match. AC Milan will have to play its next home game with a partially closed stadium due to “insulting chants, expressing discrimination based on territorial origin” – or, in colloquial terms, for racist chants.
With all this drama, how does one explain how Americans do not like soccer?
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