Mario Balotelli celebrated his AC Milan debut by scoring twice in a 2-1 win over Udinese on Sunday, but the match ended in uproar over the penalty which led to his winning goal three minutes into stoppage-time.
Police stepped in to protect the referee from furious Udinese protests after yet another in a series of hugely controversial decisions which have marked Serie A this season.
Italy international striker Balotelli, who had opened his account in the 25th minute three days after completing his move from Manchester City, converted with the last kick of the match after the referee judged that Stephan El Shaarawy had been fouled.
El Shaarawy tumbled theatrically in the area after being tackled by Thomas Heurtaux, but the referee pointed to the spot amid Udinese disbelief and “Super Mario” converted.
Giampiero Pinzi had leveled for Udinese early in the second half after Balotelli opened his account when he turned in El Shaarawy’s cross in from close range.
Leaders Juventus, themselves involved in a furious row the previous weekend over the refereeing in their 1-1 home draw with Genoa, won 2-1 win at AC Chievo Verona, restoring their three-point lead at the top, while SS Lazio and Inter lost touch after losing to lowly opponents.
Alessandro Matri volleyed home after 10 minutes and Swiss midfielder Stephan Lichtsteiner finished a well-worked move three minutes before halftime for Juventus, whose new signing Nicolas Anelka was left on the bench.
Cyril Thereau pulled one back for the Flying Donkeys early in the second half, but Juventus, with coach Antonio Conte barred from the touchline for his furious outburst over the refereeing against Genoa, held out comfortably.
Genoa’s Marco Rigoni headed in from a corner in the fifth minute of stoppage-time to give them a 3-2 win over third-placed Lazio, who slumped to their second successive league defeat, despite coming back from two goals behind.
Marco Borriello and Andrea Bertolacci struck in a six-minute spell in the first half to put Genoa in control, before Sergio Floccari pulled one back and Stefano Mauri leveled with an 82nd-minute penalty.
Inter produced a dire performance in a 3-1 loss at table-propping AC Siena which left coach Andrea Stramaccioni fuming and meant they dropped to fifth, behind city rivals Milan.
“It was an ugly defeat and an ugly performance, and there is no justification for it,” he told RAI television. “We’ve got to find ourselves again, as we are still the team who in November were a point off the leaders and had great ambition.”
There were three goals in a four-minute first-half spell as Siena’s debutant Innocent Emeghara tapped in from close range, Antonio Cassano leveled almost immediately and Alessio Sestu put the hosts back in front with a long-range effort.
Siena wrapped things up 10 minutes after the restart when Inter’s Cristian Chivu hauled down Emeghara, was sent off, and Alessandro Rossina converted the penalty.
Siena’s victory took them off the bottom of the table on goal-difference from US Citta di Palermo, who lost 2-1 at home to Atalanta BC, despite fielding four new signings.
Both teams have 17 points, three adrift of Delfino Pescara 1936, who twice led, but lost 3-2 at home to Bologna in a game of three penalties.
Vladimir Weiss won and converted the first for Pescara on the half-hour mark, Alessandro Diamanti replied four minutes later with another spot-kick and the third was converted by Gaetano d’Agostino for the hosts on the stroke of halftime with Weiss injured.
Second-half goals from Alberto Gilardino and Panagiotis Kone sent Pescara to a fourth straight defeat.
Also on Sunday, ACF Fiorentina defeated Parma 2-0 with goals from Luca Toni and Stevan Jovetic.
Additional reporting by staff writer