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Balotelli Scores in AC Milan Debut; Atletico Cuts Barcelona Lead

Mario Balotelli scored twice in his AC Milan debut to help lift his new team to fourth place in Italian soccer’s Serie A after Juventus restored its three-point lead atop the standings by beating Chievo 2-1.

Balotelli, who joined Milan last week from Manchester City, opened the scoring in the 25th minute last night and sealed the victory from the penalty spot in second-half stoppage after Giampiero Pinzi had tied the scores.

Juventus earlier got goals by Alessandro Matri and Stephan Lichtsteiner to defeat Chievo and regain its three-point lead over Napoli, which beat Catania 2-0 the day before.

Third-place Lazio lost ground in the title race with a 3-2 defeat at Genoa and Inter Milan crashed 3-1 at Siena, which moved out of last place. Fiorentina defeated Parma 2-0.

Diego Costa scored the only goal of the game in the 61st minute as Atletico Madrid beat Real Betis last night to narrow the gap on Spanish league leader Barcelona to nine points.

Lionel Messi earlier scored his 34th league goal of the season from the penalty spot as Barcelona was held to a 1-1 draw by Valencia, which became only the third team to avoid losing to Barca this campaign.

Two days ago, Cristiano Ronaldo’s own goal gave Granada a 1-0 win against Real Madrid, which has 43 points in third place, seven behind city rival Atletico.

In Germany, defending champion Borussia Dortmund won 3-2 at Bayer Leverkusen to move above its opponent into second place. Robert Lewandowski got Dortmund’s winner in the 63rd minute after Leverkusen had fought back from a 2-0 deficit.

Bayern Munich leads the standings by 12 points after a 3-0 win at Mainz two days ago.

French Failures

In France, Lyon and Marseille failed to keep pace with leader Paris Saint-Germain as both lost yesterday.

Lyon missed the chance to join PSG with 48 points atop the standings by losing 3-1 at Ajaccio before Marseille slipped to a 1-0 home defeat against Nancy. PSG had moved clear at the top following its 4-0 win at Toulouse on Feb. 1.

In the Netherlands, FC Twente missed the chance to go a point behind leader PSV Eindhoven, losing 4-2 at home to Utrecht. Ajax won 3-0 at VVV Venlo and moved into second place.

PSV, which routed Den Haag 7-0 two days ago, has 46 points, Ajax 43 and Twente 42.

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