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European Championships

Warsaw National Stadium (ATT 58,500) 28th June 2012 - Kick off 19:45 Ref: S Lannoy

Germany Germany vs Italy Italy

Germany 1

M Ozil (pen 90+2)

ft

Italy 2

M Balotelli (20, 36)

Super Mario fires Italy through

Balotelli on target with brace as Italy down Germans in Warsaw

Last Updated: 28/06/12 10:32pm

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Italy frontman Mario Balotelli scored an emphatic first-half double to fire the Azzurri to a 2-1 victory over Germany and into the final of Euro 2012.

Man of the match: Mario Balotelli reminded the Europe of his brilliance with two first-half goals to fire Italy into Sunday's final against Spain. The controversial Manchester City striker rose to head home Antonio Cassano's cross before blasting an unstoppable shot past Manuel Neuer to stun favourites Germany. Referee: Stephane Lannoy had few big decisions to make until penalising Italy defender Federico Balzaretti for a handball inside the box in stoppage time. It mattered little in terms of the overall result as Germany had little time to add to Mesut Ozil's penalty. Lessons learnt: Can Italy go all the way after that display? Have your say here.

The Manchester City striker is known for his unpredictability both on and off the pitch, but while he had blown hot and cold in Poland and Ukraine ahead of Thursday night's clash, he produced a searing performance in Warsaw.

Balotelli got things rolling for Cesare Prandelli's side when he headed home Antonio Cassano's cross from close range in the 20th minute after some poor defending from the Germans.

But the striker's crowning moment came 16 minutes later as he raced onto Riccardo Montolivo's through-ball and smashed a sizzling shot past Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Germany were handed a last-gasp lifeline when the referee pointed to the penalty spot after Federico Balzaretti's handball in second-half stoppage time and Mesut Ozil made no mistake converting, but it was too little too late for Low's men, who have never beaten Italy in a competitive game.

The Azzurri will now take on holders and world champions Spain in Kiev in Sunday's decider.

Threat

Germany had started the match as favourites, mainly thanks to their world record run of 15 successive victories.

Having seen how hard England had found it to subdue Andrea Pirlo, it was anticipated they would deal with him much better. Instead, it was worse.

Sitting deep on the halfway line, Germany allowed Pirlo the time to pick out returning full-back Giorgio Chiellini with a brilliant pass to the touchline.

From there, it went downhill rapidly for Joachim Low's side.

Chiellini nudged the ball onto Cassano, who swivelled past Mats Hummels with the minimum of fuss.

Balotelli immediately got himself some space behind Holger Badstuber and when the cross came, he rose to power the ball home from six yards.

If that was efficient in its execution, Balotelli's second was brutal.

Advancing from deep inside his own half, Riccardo Montolivo could scarcely believe the room he was given. Twice he looked up to see if anything was on.

On the second occasion he spotted Balotelli making his run, exploiting Philipp Lahm's failure to maintain the offside line.

It took Balotelli a bit of time to get himself into a shooting position.

However, as the ball sat up nicely, he smashed it past Manuel Neuer.

The Germany goalkeeper had set himself to make a save. In the end, there was nothing he could do but stick out a limp hand and fall to the ground, powerless to do anything to prevent his goal being breached a second time.

Balotelli was booked for removing his shirt as he attempted to celebrate with a moody pose.

He could not keep it up though and broke into a broad smile as he was engulfed by ecstatic team-mates.

It was a performance that put English efforts - and Ireland's for that matter - into some kind of perspective. Germany, though, were a shadow of their normal selves.

Twice in the opening stages Gianluigi Buffon had fumbled close to his own line but they could not take advantage.

Sami Khedira did launch a volley towards goal in between Balotelli's brace, but on that occasion Buffon was able to make the save.

Low took decisive action at the interval, introducing Miroslav Klose and Marco Reus for Mario Gomez and Lukas Podolski, whose fitful contribution cannot have impressed watching Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

The change brought some much-needed life into German ranks.

However, their efforts at hauling themselves back into the contest were repeatedly thwarted.

Lahm failed to hit the target after running onto Toni Kroos' return pass before Buffon pushed Reus' free-kick against his own bar and away to safety.

Disappointing

A disappointing Ozil surged to the by-line, but, with hardly any room, Khedira needed to react far quicker than he did to the near-post cut-back.

Balotelli's exit with cramp meant he was denied the opportunity to become the first player to score a semi-final hat-trick since Dieter Muller did it in 1976.

His replacement, Antonio Di Natale, should have wrapped up victory when he found himself in acres of space inside the box, but dragged his effort wide of the far post, much to Balotelli's frustration.

Federico Balzaretti's handball in the final minute did provide a few nerves for Italy as Ozil fired home from the spot.

But Prandelli's men were able to reach the final whistle and celebrate their triumph.

GermanyTeam StatisticsItaly
1Goals2
01st Half Goals2
8Shots on Target4
9Shots off Target6
3Blocked Shots1
14Corners0
13Fouls19
0Offsides2
1Yellow Cards4
0Red Cards0
82Passing Success79.6
21Tackles18
85.7Tackles Success66.7
56.1Possession43.9
62.3Territorial Advantage37.7
512Total Passes421
46Total Crosses5
167Lost Balls146
61Recoveries55
49.81st Half Poss.50.2
60.72nd Half Poss.39.3

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Matches

  • European Championships

    Thu 28th Jun - Semi-Final

Tables

European Championships Group A

European Championships
Pos Team P Pts
1 Czech Republic 3 6
2 Greece 3 4
3 Russia 3 4
4 Poland 3 2

European Championships Group B

European Championships
Pos Team P Pts
1 Germany 3 9
2 Portugal 3 6
3 Denmark 3 3
4 Netherlands 3 0

European Championships Group C

European Championships
Pos Team P Pts
1 Spain 3 7
2 Italy 3 5
3 Croatia 3 4
4 Republic of Ireland 3 0

European Championships Group D

European Championships
Pos Team P Pts
1 England 3 7
2 France 3 4
3 Ukraine 3 3
4 Sweden 3 3

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