WARSAW: Striker Mario Balotelli struck twice to seal Italy’s 2-1 semi-final win over Germany on Thursday to leave the Germans’ Euro 2012 ambitions in tatters while the Azzurri march on to the final.
The 21-year-old Manchester City star broke German hearts with a first-half header and sublime strike as Joachim Loew’s inexperienced team — the youngest of the 16 at Euro 2012 — failed to cope with Cesare Prandelli’s street-wise Italians.A late penalty from Mesut Ozil proved no more than a consolation score for the Germans whose 16-year wait for a major title continues.
Italy are now into Sunday’s final in Kiev to face defending champions Spain with the Italians bidding to win their first European crown since 1968.Man-of-the-match Andrea Pirlo was again superb for the Italians, as the 33-year-old Juventus star had been in the quarter-final win over England.
“We played exactly how we had wanted to,” said Prandelli.“We managed to make life hard for Germany, we have Riccardo Montolivo to thank for that.“Spain are the favourites, but we proved that we have a strong team.”
Victory at Warsaw’s National Stadium means Italy maintain their impressive record of having never lost to Germany at a World Cup or European Championships on their eighth meeting at a major tournament.