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Balotelli caught smoking, gets banned, throws tantrum

(Reuters) - Mario Balotelli had been on his best behaviour since joining AC Milan but the maverick striker's old habits resurfaced at the weekend when he was fined for smoking in a train toilet and suspended for a needless yellow card. Balotelli, who has scored seven goals since his January move from Manchester City, also threw a tantrum at the end of the 2-2 draw against Fiorentina after he was involved in an altercation with rival goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano.

Balotelli fined for smoking in toilet on train

MILAN (Reuters) - AC Milan's maverick forward Mario Balotelli was caught smoking in the toilet on the train during the team's journey to Florence and will be fined, chief executive Adriano Galliani said on Sunday. Balotelli was ticked off by the train guard who told Galliani: "You need to pull his ears. He was smoking in the bathroom," Gazzetta dello Sport reported. Smoking is banned on Italian trains. "I want to say that we're going to fine him," Galliani told the newspaper.

Football: Milan up to second as Juve boost title defence

Riccardo Montolivo pounced on the rebound from a Mario Balotelli free-kick to seal a 1-0 win for AC Milan over Chievo on Saturday which moved the Rossoneri up to second place in Serie A 11 points behind Juventus. Napoli, who dropped to third, can reclaim second spot if they beat Torino in Saturday's late match. Earlier Saturday, Fabio Quagliarella and Alessandro Matri scored one apiece for Juve as the champions reinforced their Serie A title defence with a commanding 2-1 away win to Inter Milan at the San Siro.

Football: Italy attack-minded for Malta match

Fresh off a rousing comeback against Brazil in a friendly, Cesare Prandelli's Italy side face a trip to Malta on Tuesday as they look to extend their lead over Bulgaria in Group B and move one step closer to World Cup qualification. Prandelli will be hoping Italy carry that second half form into the match at the Ta'Qali National Stadium, especially given that Pietro Ghedin's men have yet to win in this qualification campaign and have only scored one goal in the four matches they have played.

Football: Balotelli lauds goal but rues missed chances

Mario Balotelli admitted he should have scored more in a 2-2 friendly draw with Brazil despite scoring a superb equaliser for the Azzurri. Italy, the four-time World Cup winners, went in for the half-time break 2-0 down to the five-time champions following goals from Fred and Oscar. However Cesare Prandelli switched from from a two-man attack to a 4-3-3, giving Italy more width. It proved a decisive move, with two goals coming from Italy in the space of three minutes courtesy of Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi and Balotelli.

Italy coach Prandelli praises team player Balotelli

By Brian Homewood GENEVA (Reuters) - Mario Balotelli earned lavish praise for his team spirit from Italy coach Cesare Prandelli following his performance in the 2-2 draw in a friendly against Brazil on Thursday. "I know how he really wants to be one of the best in the world but he has to remember how he can get there, and that is through team work," Prandelli told reporters. "That is what he did tonight, like a true champion."

Italy's Balotelli upstages Neymar in Brazil draw

By Brian Homewood GENEVA (Reuters) - Italy striker Mario Balotelli left his Brazil counterpart Neymar in the shadows as he capped an inspiring performance with a majestic goal in a 2-2 international friendly draw on Thursday. Balotelli curled an unstoppable shot past Julio Cesar as Italy recovered from 2-0 down at halftime to deny Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari his first win since being reappointed for a second stint in November.

Inter face UEFA investigation over racism allegations

BERNE (Reuters) - Inter Milan risk disciplinary proceedings after their fans were accused of racist behaviour during the Europa League last 16 clash at home to Tottenham Hotspur, UEFA said on Monday. A statement from European football's governing body said the Serie A club were under investigation for "racist behaviour of supporters, insufficient organisation and the throwing of missiles and/or fireworks".

Milan is Balotelli's big chance, says coach

MILAN (Reuters) - Mario Balotelli is an excellent professional and AC Milan is his big chance to get his career on the right track, his coach Massimiliano Allegri said after the volatile forward scored two more goals on Sunday. The maverick striker, yet to be on the losing side with his new club, appears to have left behind the antics which marked his spell in the Premier League and has scored seven times in six appearances since his January move from Manchester City.

UPDATE 1-Soccer-Balotelli helps 10-man Milan sink Genoa

* Milan tighten grip on third spot * Pazzini and Balotelli on target By Terry Daley ROME, March 8 (Reuters) - Mario Balotelli came off the bench to help 10-man AC Milan record a 2-0 victory at Genoa on Friday that tightened their grip on third place in Serie A ahead of Tuesday's Champions League return match with Barcelona.
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