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Mario Balotelli scores late on to secure AC Milan win against relegation-threatened Bologna

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MILAN - Mario Balotelli's stunning late winner secured a 1-0 victory for AC Milan against relegation-threatened Bologna in Serie A on Friday.

Balotelli fired into the top far corner from 35 metres in the 86th minute. The result will be a welcome boost before the first leg of Milan's Champions League last-16 tie against Spanish league leader Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

"I think that was the goal of the season," Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani said. "It was very difficult to score and it was an incredibly powerful, explosive effort. When you have great champions they can win the match for you with one shot. I'm going to watch it over and over again tonight.

"Bologna was difficult to beat and we won it with a great bit of play from a great champion like Mario. Balotelli has to gain continuity but he has everything to become a great champion."

Milan had the majority of the possession and should have taken an early lead but Bologna goalkeeper parried Riccardo Montolivo's effort.

Kaka was back from a bout of flu which kept him out of last week's 3-1 defeat at Napoli, and the Brazilian lined up alongside January signings Keisuke Honda and Adel Taarabt, just behind Balotelli.

Bologna had the best chance of the first half though, and Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati did well to fingertip Rene Krhin's header over the crossbar in the 22nd minute.

"I don't like this Milan side," Bologna coach Davide Ballardini said. "Once upon a time it was a squad made up of champions who would help the team and now it doesn't seem to me to be like this anymore.

"I would like to coach a player like Balotelli. He has the makings of the champion, but to become a real champion he needs other things as well."

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