Mario Balotelli got his Nice career off to the best possible start, scoring two goals in a 3-2 victory over Marseille at the Allianz Riviera.
The Italian striker, whose reputation has nose-dived over the past couple of years, kept his cool to score a seventh-minute penalty despite the attempts of Bafetimbi Gomis to put him off - more on that in a bit - and then scored the equalising goal in the 78th minute after Florian Thauvin and Gomis had put the visitors 2-1 ahead.
Buoyed by Balotelli’s second goal of the evening, Nice went on to net an 87th-minute winner through midfielder Wylan Cyprien.
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The spotlight was on Balotelli, though, after the much-maligned forward’s eye-catching debut.
And he did remarkably well to keep his nerve after Gomis’ intervention.
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Video: Gomis tries to put Balotelli off penalty
The former Swansea City striker walked across Balotelli as he geared himself up to take the spot-kick - prompted the Italian to give his opponent a little push - before clapping Nice goalkeeper Yoann Pele from inside the penalty area.
The gamesmanship from Gomis didn’t stop there, though. He then began shouting and clapping at Balotelli - again, from inside the box - while the referee, Frank Schneider, stood and watched.
Despite looking a little rattled, Balotelli kept his composure and found the back of the net.
Video: Balotelli's penalty
Video: Balotelli's second goal
Balotelli admits Liverpool spell was a nightmare
After the match, Balotelli revealed that he didn’t enjoy his time at Liverpool.
Moreover, he wasn’t left with a particularly positive impression of either Brendan Rodgers or Jurgen Klopp.
"Apart from the fans, who were fantastic, and some players who I got on really well with, I didn't like the club," Balotelli told Canal Plus, per BBC Sport.
He continued: "I had two coaches, with Rodgers and Klopp for a short time, but neither their methods nor their personality left me with a good impression. I never really felt right there.”
He still wants the Ballon d'Or
Despite the past couple of years, however, Balotelli admits he still dreams of winning the Ballon d’Or.
"Of course. It's not too late," he added. "I think I could have already won it by now, but by working hard in training I could still win it in the next two or three years."
If you say so, Mario.
Will Mario Balotelli finish his career with a Ballon d’Or? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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