Soccer-Balotelli scores four minutes into Monza debut

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(Reuters) - Maverick forward Mario Balotelli scored four minutes into his debut for Serie B side Monza on Wednesday, setting them on the way to a 3-0 win over leaders Salernitana in his first senior match since March.

The 30-year-old former Italy international, starting out at the ninth club of his turbulent career, was left unmarked at the far post to side-foot the ball in from close range following a low cross.

The win left promotion-chasing Monza, who have never played in Serie A, two points behind their opponents.

Balotelli, the former Inter Milan, Liverpool, AC Milan and Manchester City forward, spent last season at his hometown club Brescia in Serie A, scoring five goals in 19 appearances, but left after a bitter falling-out with the club's directors.

Brescia were eventually relegated.

Balotelli joined Monza this month and was warned by Adriano Galliani, the club's chief executive, that it was "absolutely the last chance" to resurrect his career.

A frequent victim of the racism which has plagued Italian football, Balotelli has suffered disciplinary problems throughout his career, leaving many frustrated at his failure to live up to his potential.

Monza were bought by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in 2018. Berlusconi was previously owner of AC Milan for three decades during which the club enjoyed their most successful period.

Galliani was Berlusconi's right-hand man for much of that time.

(Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond)