Proud papa: Balotelli scores as daughter watches in Napoli

Napoli's Dries Mertens, left, is challenged by Brescia's Daniele Gastaldello during the Serie A soccer match between Napoli and Brescia, at the San Paolo stadium in Naples, Italy, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. (Cesare Abbate/ANSA via AP)
Roma's Edin Dzeko, center, back to camera, celebrates with his teammates after scoring during the Italian Serie A soccer match between Lecce and Roma at the Via del Mare stadium in Lecce, Italy, Saunday, Sept. 29, 2019. (Marco Lezzi/ANSA Via AP)
Brescia's Mario Balotelli holds his daughter Pia wearing a Napoli soccer team jersey, as he enters the pitch prior to the start of the Italian Serie A soccer match between Napoli and Brescia at the San Paolo stadium in Naples, Italy, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. (Cesare Abbate/ANSA Via AP)
Lazio's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scores his side's opening goal during a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Genoa, at the Rome Olympic Stadium, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Lazio's Stefan Radu, center, number 26, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Genoa, at the Rome Olympic Stadium, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Lazio fans cheer during a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Genoa, at the Rome Olympic Stadium, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

ROME — Playing before friends and family members may be the biggest inspiration for Mario Balotelli at this point in his nomadic and controversy-filled career.

Having signed with Brescia after three years away from the Italian league, Balotelli plays his home matches a stone's throw from the house that he grew up in.

And on Sunday, Balotelli carried Pia, his six-year-old daughter, onto the field with him before Brescia's match at Napoli as the players lined up for the Serie A anthem.

His daughter lives in Naples with her Neapolitan mother and was wearing a Napoli uniform.

The hosts took a 2-0 lead through Dries Mertens and Kostas Manolas before the break but Balotelli took advantage of his imposing physique to head in from a corner midway through the second half and make it interesting right until the end of Napoli's 2-1 win.

"Mario is a player that you all know," Brescia coach Eugenio Corini said. "He arrived with a lot of motivation and he really seems to be bonding with the squad. He's a great player and I'll always expect something extra from him."

Balotelli missed the opening four matches of the season due to a four-match ban carried over from when he was at Marseille in the French league. He came close to scoring in his Brescia debut, a loss to Juventus on Tuesday.

Bouncing back from a highly disappointing midweek loss to Cagliari, fourth-place Napoli moved within one point of third-place Atalanta.

"We cannot concede a goal that way and always make it complicated for ourselves," Mertens said.

Both sides also had goals disallowed by VAR.

Brescia is 14th.

OTHER RESULTS

Roma is fifth, one point behind Napoli, after Edin Dzeko's header earned the Giallorossi a 1-0 victory at Lecce.

Lazio is one point further back in sixth after routing Genoa 4-0 with goals from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, ?tefan Radu, Felipe Caicedo and Ciro Immobile.

Also, Udinese beat Bologna with a first-half strike from Stefano Okaka.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AndrewDampf

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