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.
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.”
The 29-year-old Balotelli has struggled since returning to Serie A with Brescia, his hometown club, and was dropped from the weekend’s match following a dispute with coach Fabio Grosso.
Asked about Balotelli on Monday, Cellino said: “He’s black, what can I say, he’s working on clearing himself but he’s having a lot of difficulty.”
Balotelli experienced racism at the beginning of his career in Italy, when he rose to prominence with Inter Milan, and he was also the target of racist chants earlier this month during a match at Hellas Verona.
The game was suspended for several minutes and Balotelli threatened to leave the field.
A two-time Premier League league winner, Smalling, 30, must have a long list of “memorable” games to choose from. But after scoring once and assisting twice against bottom-dwellers Brescia on Sunday, it can be said that the Englishmen might have topped the list.
On Sunday, the defender became the first English player to score at least two goals in a single Serie A season since David Beckham.
The Manchester United loanee opened the floodgates in the 49th minute, heading Lorenzo Pellegrini’s lofting corner into the back of the net. Just eight minutes later, Roma scored a second from a corner-kick.
This time, Smalling – keeping tabs on the last Brescia defender – headed the ball downwards, rebounding and finding defender Gianluca Mancini’s right foot, which set up for a simple volley strike past Jesse Joronen.
In the 66th minute, the defender’s header found a well-positioned Edin Dzeko for Roma’s third and final of the night.
Now fourth in the Italian top flight, Roma prepare for Istanbul Basaksehir on Thursday, while Brescia look for their league win in eight consecutive games against Atalanta.
Sassuolo 1-2 Lazio
With the game two minutes away from the final whistle, Lazio needed a miracle to comfortably remain in Serie A’s third spot.
Substitute Felipe Caicedo was just that, scoring I Biancocelesti’s game-winning goal in the first minute of stoppage time.
With the frustration of not getting a penalty call go their way minutes earlier, Luis Alberto and Caicedo paced past Sassuolo’s midfield and backline, combining with a set of back-and-forth passes. Inside the box, with position to shoot at goal, the Ecuadorian’s strike bounced over two, full-stretch defender and into the back of the net.
In the first half, Serie A top scorer, Ciro Immobile, added his 15th of the season, while the home side finished the first 45 minutes with a lot of hope, following captain’s Francesco Caputo’s tap-in.
Red-hot Lazio host CFR Cluj on Thursday in Europe League play, while Sassuolo prepare for their big game against Juventus on Sunday.