The night that Mario Balotteli missed the first penalty of his career will be remembered in many ways than one. On that same night, he hit the crossbar, scored a stunning stoppage time goal, got booked in normal time and was sent off after the final whistle with a second booking.
But as beautiful as his right foot curled in goal was, that was barely the highlight of the match especially given that AC Milan still lost the match 2-1 to Napoli.
The penalty miss was.
It had been 26 penalties, 21 in official matches, that the fiery Italian forward had converted for both club and country until Pepe Reina denied him on Sunday. The on-loan Liverpool custodian must have referred back to Balotelli’s interview with the Mirror in November 2012 where he said: “Me, I know how to control my mind. When the keeper moves before me, it means that in this game of the mind he has lost.”
Reina never moved.
Instead, he waited for the 23-year-old to hit his penalty low onto his (Reina’s) right and the bald-headed keeper dived to make fairly an easy save. The former Manchester City forward looked incensed and even though he got one over Reina in stoppage time with a wonderful goal, the duck had been broken, something that must have contributed to Balotteli’s sending off after the final whistle following an argument with the referee.
Will he establish another streak or this was the beginning of the end?
Watch the penalty miss here: