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Italian roundup: Juventus beats Brescia 2-1 on Mario Balotelli’s Serie A return

UPDATED: Tue., Sept. 24, 2019

Juventus’ Paulo Dybala, left, takes on Brescia’s Jhon Chancellor during the Italian Serie A soccer match between Brescia and Juventus at the Rigamonti stadium in Brescia, Italy , Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (Filippo Venezia / Associated Press)
Juventus’ Paulo Dybala, left, takes on Brescia’s Jhon Chancellor during the Italian Serie A soccer match between Brescia and Juventus at the Rigamonti stadium in Brescia, Italy , Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (Filippo Venezia / Associated Press)
By Daniella Matar Associated Press

MILAN – Mario Balotelli was kept quiet on his return to Serie A as his Brescia side lost 2-1 at home to eight-time defending champion Juventus on Tuesday.

An own goal from Brescia defender Jhon Chancellor and Miralem Pjanic’s second-half strike saw Juventus come from behind after Alfredo Donnarumma’s early opener.

“We are proud of what we have done,” Donnarumma said. “Mario is accustomed to different movements, so we communicate a lot on our movements off the ball. Playing alongside him is an honor for me and I hope we can do a lot of things from now on.”

It was Juve’s fourth win in the opening five matches and was achieved without Cristiano Ronaldo, who was rested with a slight muscular injury.

Balotelli was signed by hometown club Brescia in the offseason on a free transfer but was suspended for the first four matches following a red card in his final match for Marseille.

“He arrived with the right motivation,” Brescia coach Eugenio Corini said. “He is working hard, he is an extraordinary player who I am sure will give us a big hand. It’s being close to home that is good for him, I see him relaxed and fully involved in the team.”

Balotelli was named in the starting lineup against Juventus, playing his first match in Italy since a disappointing season-long loan at AC Milan ended in 2016.

But it was teammate Donnarumma who gave Brescia the lead in the fourth minute with a powerful shot which bent back Wojciech Szczesny’s gloves.

Juventus leveled shortly before the break when a corner from the right was bundled into his own net by Chancellor.

Balotelli had chances either side of that goal with a pair of free kicks, but Szczesny fingertipped one over the bar and the other went past the post.

Juventus scored what was to prove the winner shortly after the hour. Paulo Dybala sent a free kick into the wall but Pjanic fired the rebound into the bottom left corner.

In Tuesday’s other game, Hellas Verona dominated but was held to a 0-0 draw by fellow struggler Udinese.

Verona had the better of the chances and went close to breaking the deadlock late on but Udinese goalkeeper Juan Musso palmed Mariusz Stepinski’s header onto the underside of the crossbar and it bounced off the post on its way out.

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