AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri has urged striker Mario Balotelli to learn to "shut up" after he was sent off during the 2-1 defeat to Napoli on Sunday.
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Balotelli had an eventful day, missing a penalty for the first time in his career and being frustrated by a fine performance from Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina. He scored a consolation goal before being dismissed for dissent when he picked up a second yellow after the full-time whistle.
The 23-year-old Italy international received his eighth red card as a professional and came under fire from Allegri, who insists the player must improve his discipline.
"When games are over, it’s better to stay quiet and I am against hysteria," Allegri told Sky Sport Italia. "It's best to shut up and leave rather than stay there arguing with the referee, as it’s not going to change anything. Balotelli needs to improve that.
"He received a fair few kicks, including many from behind, though he overall had a good game.
“Of course you’ve got to be angry at the final whistle [after losing], but you’ve got to remain serene. Hysterical outbursts don’t help at all. After the final whistle, you’ve got to shut up, otherwise you only do harm.”
Some of Balotelli’s Milan team-mates also urged him to show more restraint, with full-back Ignazio Abate telling Rai television: “I didn’t see the incident, but I heard about it when I got back into the dressing room.
“Mario has got to learn to control himself because he is a crucial part of our team, and to lose him for two or three games will be a problem. He has got to learn some self-control.”
Milan slipped to 12th place after the weekend's results and Allegri said they already faced an uphill battle to challenge for the Scudetto.
"We must try to pick up as many points as possible now," he added. "Napoli are one of the candidates for the Scudetto and we played on a par with them overall despite missing many key players. I already have ideas on how to fix things, but I need some of the players to recover from injuries first."
Milan are now eight points behind both Napoli and Roma, echoing the uncertain start to last season from which they recovered to secure the third and final Champions League berth.