By ANTONY KASTRINAKIS
MARIO BALOTELLI endured a night of hell in the Milan derby as his goalscoring streak came to a dramatic end.
The striker’s life could make a Hollywood blockbuster.
And they could call it Il Classico after last night’s explosive Milan derby which ended in a 1-1 draw.
But even Quentin Tarantino could not have scripted Balotelli’s reversal of fortune in the last month.
Last night, in the face of sick mass provocation, the former Manchester City striker held it together.
He may not have scored but he faced down his tormentors with dignity.
And Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri said: “I am happy with what Mario did.
“Let’s not forget he’s a 22-year-old lad who was playing against his old club where he grew up.
“He was brave because he didn’t react to any provocation and I am very pleased with him for that.”
It all kicked off around the hour mark with Milan one up through Stephan El Shaarawy’s first-half opener.
Balotelli had been greeted by deafening boos before the start and vile chants of “Balotelli, you son of a whore”.
But a statement from Inter’s hardcore ultras on the eve of the game to refrain from racist abuse seemed to have paid off.
When inflatable bananas were waved at him in the second half. Balotelli merely put a finger on his lips as if telling the sickos to shut up.
It seemed to fan the flames of hatred. Dozens of inflatable bananas were then waved by Inter fans and two giant banners with sick messages were unfurled.
One had a message about Balo’s failure to recognise a daughter from ex-girlfriend Raffaella Ficco, the other read “Balotelli you are just a poor man of s**t”.
As the abuse rained down he almost scored again with a header.
And then he nearly connected with Antonio Nocerino’s cross but keeper Samir Handanovic saved.
There were isolated monkey chants by some morons next to the Press box but they did not spread across the stadium.
Balo’s four goals in three wins since he was hailed as Milan’s messiah after his £19.5million switch from City last month had helped the club leapfrog Inter into the third Champions League place.
Super Mario was always going to be a hate figure as he was back to face his old club as the leader of their arch rivals.
An hour before the game the atmosphere was crackling.
This should have been a night where you remembered the days when Serie A was the toast of world football.
San Siro was resplendent as 79,341 defied sub-zero temperatures and heavy snowfall to turn this into an occasion that Balotelli will certainly never forget.
Come the half hour Balotelli should have scored. First he fluffed his lines in front of goal, then he forced a super save from Handanovic with a towering header.
When he connected with Mattia De Sciglio’s pinpoint cross five yards out it went straight at Handanovic and Balotelli kicked a post in rage.
El Shaarawy had put Milan ahead after Kevin-Prince Boateng’s defence-splitting ball.
Andre Villas-Boas was in the stands to watch Tottenham’s Europa League rivals Inter stage a second-half fightback as sub Ezequiel Schelotto levelled on 71 minutes — to force the first draw in a Milan derby since 2004.
Inter fans vented their fury on Balotelli at the end — but he just turned and applauded the Milan fans.