Serie A: Atalanta bounces back by hammering Balotelli’s Brescia

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ROME (AP) Mario Balotelli showed flashes of form as he returned to Brescia’s lineup after sitting out a game due to disciplinary reasons. But it was another Mario who made the biggest impact in a regional Serie A derby with Atalanta on Saturday.

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Mario Pasalic scored either side of halftime and Atalanta won 3-0 to stay in the Champions League qualifying places.

Balotelli hit the post early in the second half and had several other chances. Still, last-placed Brescia lost its sixth straight and 10th in 13 matches this season.

Brescia hasn’t scored, and has conceded 10, in Fabio Grosso’s three matches in charge since replacing Eugeno Corini.

“We played with fear and if the opponents smell timidity they take advantage of it,” said Grosso, who is coaching in Serie A for the first time. “I haven’t been here for very long. It’s going to take time and hard work to put something worthwhile together.”

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Atalanta moved level on points with fourth-placed Cagliari and fifth-placed Roma — with the top four finishers qualifying for the Champions League.

Pasalic was left unmarked to head in Brescia’s opener and scored his second with a slick backheel flick from close range.

Josip Ilicic scored Atalanta’s third by finishing off a counterattack in added time.