Balotelli fires Italy into Euro 2012 final
Italy's Mario Balotelli scored two superb first-half goals to steer his team to a 2-1 victory over favourites Germany and into the Euro 2012 final where they will meet holders Spain
Italy's Mario Balotelli scored two superb first-half goals to steer his team to a 2-1 victory over favourites Germany and into the Euro 2012 final where they will meet holders Spain.
The unpredictable forward struck twice in 16 minutes to silence critics with a glorious performance that snapped Germany's 15-match winning streak in competitive games.
The victory sets up an unexpected final in Kiev on Monday morning (AEST) against the world and European champions with whom the Italians drew 1-1 in the group stage of the tournament.
Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil converted a penalty in added time after Federico Balzaretti had handled in the area but Italy held on for the victory.
The distraught Germans are now without a win against the Italians in all eight of their tournament meetings since their first half a century ago.
"I'll say only that when one talks about Italy everyone needs to be very careful," said Italy's coach Cesare Prandelli.
"We have played an extraordinary game. We have given an example of how to show grace and an attachment to the shirt."
Germany coach Joachim Low said: "We had two goals against us in the first half and it was difficult. The team showed a lot of heart after that. We had our chances in the second half, if we had got the goal sooner it would have been a different match.
"It's very difficult against a team like Italy to fall behind 2-0. They defend with everything they have.
"The disappointment is huge for everyone but we shouldn't make the mistake and question everything. We've got to see how we can do better in the future."
Spain booked its place in the final by beating Portugal on penalties Thursday.
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