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Watch: Mario Balotelli scores on first Italy start for four years against Saudi Arabia

Mario Balotelli

Balotelli dedicated his opener to Davide Astori on Monday night, as the Azzurri went on to win 2-1  

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Balotelli was included in Italy's squad by his old Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, and awarded his first start for the national team following a four-year exile.

The enigmatic 27-year-old led the line for Italy in their 2-1 friendly win over Saudi Arabia, six months after the Azzurri missed out on World Cup qualification for the first time since 1958.

Balotelli got off to a fast start in Switzerland as he swivelled and drilled home his strike in the 21st minute. Cue a typically muted celebration...

Andrea Belotti extended Italy's lead in the 68th minute with a powerful header, preceding Yahya Al-Shehri's consolation four minutes later.

After the game, Balotelli took to Instagram to dedicate his goal to the late Fiorentina captain Davide Astori.

He wrote: "I know it’s late and that you’re already there… but I am convinced that you were up there watching the game with my dad today!

"This goal, even if it might not mean anything, even if it’s no use to anyone, I dedicate it to you. #forzaitalia #thankstoallofyou"

See also...

71-year-old Bogdan Glabicki scores in the Polish sixth tier

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