Mario Balotelli proved statement by slotting home just 21 minutes after kick off as his side beat Saudi Arabia 2-1 in a friendly last Monday.
Balotelli broke the stalemate twisting past a defender before beating the opposition’s goal keeper Mohammed Al-Owais with a low shot from the outside area.
The match star, 27, who plays for French Ligue 1 club Nice made his first appearance for the national team almost four years after the 2014 World Cup. During the tournament, Mario Balotelli had managed to score in the 2-1 group-stage win over England.
Meanwhile, substitute Andrea Belotti made sure to extend Italy’s lead in the 69th minute as he scored with a very powerful downward header.
Saudi Arabia barely threatened with their tactics but eventually gave life to their campaign. Davide Zappacosta lost possession on the halfway line and the ball was quickly slipped to Yahya Al Shehri who sped past the onrushing Gianluigi Donnarumma and scored into an empty net in the 72nd minute.
But even after pulling one goal back, Saudi Arabia have still suffered 2-1 defeat. Nevertheless, they will still be in the World Cup 2018 to face the host in the opening game in Moscow on June 14 prior going on to play Uruguay and Egypt in Group A.
Balotelli’s excellent delivery handed Italy new manager Roberto Mancini a winning start after the club missed out on World Cup qualification for the first time since 1958.
The 53-year-old, who led City to their first Premier League title in 2012, took over after Gian Piero Ventura was sacked.
Photo Credit: Fanatik