Teen midfielder Busio scores late equalizer for Venezia

CAGLIARI, Sardinia (AP) — Teenage midfielder Gianluca Busio’s first Serie A goal earned promoted Venezia a late 1-1 draw at Cagliari on Friday.

Busio, one of three Americans at Venezia, saw his shot from the center of the area deflected in by defender Martin Caceres two minutes into stoppage time.

“To get my first goal to tie the game is crazy,” Busio said.

The 19-year-old Busio was born to an Italian father and American mother in North Carolina. He joined Venezia in August from Sporting Kansas City in a deal that could reportedly be worth $10 million if bonuses are met.

“We followed him for a year,” Venezia coach Paolo Zanetti said of Busio. “There were other clubs following him, too, but because of relationships our president has with the American league, we were able to bring him here.

“He came very voluntarily and has really embraced our plans. He’s a talented, complete player who covers the field and plays every match very intensely.”

Asked who Busio reminds him of, Zanetti said he’s a combination of former Italy greats Andrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso.

“He’s got skill but he can also make tackles, cover the field, and he likes to play a bit more forward,” Zanetti said. “I don’t think he’s discovered his full identity yet. He provides quality as a playmaker but he’s a bit wasted like that. I think if he moves a few meters forward he can also score goals and that’s what we saw tonight.”

Keita Baldé put Cagliari in front with a header early on to become the top Senegalese scorer in Italian league history with his 40th — overtaking Khouma Babacar (39 goals), who now plays in Turkey.

Răzvan Marin also hit the post for Cagliari.

Venezia moved one spot above the drop zone, while winless Cagliari, which has already changed coaches this season (Walter Mazzarri for Leonardo Semplici), remained one spot above last-placed Salernitana.

Busio is due to report on Sunday to the United States team for its next three World Cup qualifiers.

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