Serie A

Balotelli PK miss costs AC Milan win

AC Milan's forward Mario Balotelli
AC Milan's Mario Balotelli scored in their crucial win.
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Mario Balotelli's penalty miss cost AC Milan dear on Saturday night as they failed to get the better of 10-man Genoa, drawing 1-1 at the San Siro.

Kaka gave Massimiliano Allegri's men the lead in the fourth minute, but Alberto Gilardino replied from the penalty spot four minutes later. Balotelli then saw his spot-kick saved after Thomas Manfredini had been sent off for the Rossoblu, and visiting goalkeeper Mattia Perin continued to take centre-stage thereafter, keeping out everything Milan could throw at him to earn Genoa a point and turn the heat up even further on Allegri.

Perin may not have looked convincing with the way he dealt with an early 25-yard shot from Sulley Muntari, but he managed to keep the ball out - something he did over and over again on a torrid night for the Rossoneri. Things seemed to be going according to plan for Milan when Nigel de Jong lifted the ball over the top of a static Genoa defence for Kaka, whose perfect first touch set himself up to shoot low into the bottom-left corner with his second.

Their lead lasted only four minutes, though, before Urby Emanuelson committed a foul inside the area and former Milan striker Gilardino drilled the penalty straight down the middle to beat Christian Abbiati. The catalogue of near misses and Perin saves then started in earnest.

Balotelli's overhead kick in the 23rd minute was the first, with Alessandro Matri then shooting wide having beaten the offside trap. Another Balotelli shot was pushed wide by Perin before Milan were presented with their best chance when Manfredini manhandled Balotelli and the second penalty of the night was awarded.

The Italy striker stepped up and, at the same end of the San Siro where his perfect spot-kick conversion rate was ended by Napoli's Jose Reina recently, he was denied for only the second time in his career from the spot by Perin. Matri contrived to miss with a header from three yards out with the whole of the goal at his mercy, and the Milan fans started to vent their frustration with the former Cagliari and Juventus forward as he missed two more gilt-edged chances, Perin keeping one out with a fine save.

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The Genoa goalkeeper also saved from Kaka as the Rossoneri threw everything forward in search of a second.

Former Genoa player Valter Birsa came the closest of the lot in the 88th minute with a free header from just a few yards out which he sent wide of the far post, prompting more whistles from an impatient crowd.

Meanwhile, in Saturday's earlier match of the day, the first Verona derby in 11 years was won by Chievo as Hellas lost their perfect home record this season against their city rivals.

Hellas were looking for their seventh win in seven games at home this season but it was Chievo, on Eugenio Corini's return as coach having successfully saved the club from relegation last season, who stole a 1-0 victory deep in second-half stoppage time.

The away team did most of the attacking in a tight encounter at the Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi, and they finally found a way through in the last minute of stoppage time when Dejan Lazarevic struck the winner.

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