Balotelli bursts out of blocks for Milan
MARIO BALOTELLI made a sensational AC Milan debut as he took just 25 minutes to open his account, and grabbed both goals in a dramatic 2-1 win over Udinese.
The forward, who joined the Rossoneri from Manchester City four days ago, was only included in the starting line-up when Giampaolo Pazzini pulled out during the warm-up.
The maverick striker opened his account by turning the ball in from close range after Stephan El Shaarawy's cross from the left was deflected to his feet. He went close two minutes later with a dipping shot which was turned over by Udinese 'keeper Daniele Padelli.
In the second half, Udinese equalised through Giampiero Pinzi but Balotteli converted a disputed last minute penalty to claim the spoils for Milan.
Juventus reclaimed top spot from Napoli thanks to a 2-1 win over Chievo yesterday. Alessandro Matri and Stephen Lichtsteiner scored the goals for Allesandro Conte's side, who had slipped behind the Naples side when they beat Catania 2-0 on Saturday.
Fourth-placed Inter didn't lose ground in the chase for the Champions League spots despite going down 3-1 to Siena; Lazio also slipped up at Genoa.
In Spain, Lionel Messi scored in his 12th consecutive La Liga game to help earn leaders Barcelona a 1-1 draw at Valencia.
The world player of the year bagged his 34th league goal from the penalty spot just before half-time, after Ever Banega had given the hosts a 33rd-minute lead.
Barca improved in the second half, but Victor Valdes had to make a superb save late on from Roberto Soldado to preserve a point.
Atletico Madrid closed the gap at the top to nine points with a 1-0 home victory over Real Betis, thanks to Diega Costa's 61st-minute goal.
Real Madrid are 16 points behind Barca in third after losing 1-0 at lowly Granada on Saturday, Cristiano Ronaldo heading the game's only goal into his own net.
Valencia's intense pressuring seemed to unsettle Barca, who looked sluggish after Wednesday's King's Cup semi-final first leg at the Bernabeu, which they drew 1-1.
Their aggression paid dividends when Gerard Pique's weak headed clearance fell to Banega in the area and the Argentinean midfielder fired a low shot under Valdes.
Barca levelled before the break when Joao Pereira fouled Pedro in the area, and Messi arrowed a penalty into the top corner.
David Villa fired wide of the post as the visitors dominated in the latter stages until Pique was caught in possession in the last minute. Ali Cissokho crossed and Valdes made a sharp double save.
Earlier, fourth-placed Malaga failed to make the most of Real's slip-up when they could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Real Zaragoza.