Balotelli's blast lifts Milan over Bologna
Milan, Italy (SportsNetwork.com) - A thunderous strike from Mario Balotelli in the 86th minute rescued a 1-0 win for AC Milan over Bologna at the San Siro on Friday.
The win moves Milan back into the top half of Serie A, while Bologna remains four points clear of the relegation places.
Chances were few and far between for both sides and Riccardo Montolivo had the best opportunity in the first half when he took a pass from Keisuke Honda and drove a shot just wide of the left post from the edge of the penalty area.
Bologna nearly snatched the lead on the hour mark when a cross from Gyorgy Garics picked out Jonathan Cristaldo in the middle of the box. Cristaldo brought the ball down but he fired his shot wide of the top corner of the net.
There wasn't a lot to choose between the sides as the match entered the final 10 minutes, but Balotelli stepped up to deliver the one moment of magic that separated the teams with a rocket from 30 yards that found the upper left corner of the net.
In Saturday's lone match, fourth-place Fiorentina welcomes fifth-place Inter Milan to the Artemio Franchi with the sides separated by eight points.
The Viola is three points adrift of third-place Napoli and will hope to keep pressure on the team for the third and final Champions League place in Serie A, while Inter snapped a five-game winless run with a 1-0 win over Sassuolo last time out.
Sunday's slate of matches includes leaders Juventus hosting bottom-half Chievo, while second-place Roma tangles with Sampdoria.
Juve enters the weekend nine points clear of Roma at the top of the league and the Old Lady will be favored to claim the win against a Chievo that is winless in its last eight league matches and sits only one point above the drop zone.
Roma was held to a 0-0 draw by Lazio in the Rome derby last weekend and was bounced in the semifinals of the Coppa Italia in midweek by Napoli, leaving Rudi Garcia's men in need of a positive result against mid-table Sampdoria.
Napoli invades second-from-the-bottom Sassuolo, Lazio travels to last-place Catania, Atalanta entertains Parma, Cagliari meets Livorno, Udinese squares off with Genoa, and on Monday, Hellas Verona hosts Torino.