September 29, 2019 / 12:52 PM / 17 days ago

Napoli hold off Balotelli’s Brescia to earn narrow win

Soccer Football - Serie A - Napoli v Brescia - Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy - September 29, 2019 Napoli's Dries Mertens celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

(Reuters) - Napoli survived a second-half fightback from Brescia to move into fourth place in Serie A with a 2-1 home win on Sunday as Mario Balotelli opened his account for the visitors.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side held a two-goal lead at halftime thanks to strikes from Dries Mertens and Kostas Manolas, but Balotelli pulled one back as Brescia rallied after the break.

The result leaves Napoli in fourth place on 12 points, six behind leaders Inter Milan, while Brescia are down in 14th on six points.

Mertens’ powerful finish put the hosts ahead early on before Manolas, who had an earlier goal disallowed for handball, doubled their advantage with a glancing header in first-half stoppage time.

Brescia’s 19-year-old midfielder Sandro Tonali looked to have pulled one back in style with a long-range screamer before it was chalked off for a foul in the build-up following a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review.

Balotelli scored his first goal for his hometown club when he rose to head in a Tonali corner with 23 minutes remaining, but Brescia could not find a leveller despite a period of sustained pressure in the closing stages.

Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Toby Davis

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