Mario Balotelli finally showed some quality finishing, scoring twice Thursday to give Italy a 2—1 win over Germany and an unexpected spot in the European Championship final.
Extending its winless streak against Italy in major tournaments to eight matches, Germany had no answer for Balotelli nor Antonio Cassano’s creativity.
In the 20th minute, Balotelli had no trouble getting past Holger Badstuber to head in a pinpoint cross from Cassano. Then in the 36th, the 21—year—old striker received the ball behind the defense and blasted a long shot into the top right corner.
While he did score against Ireland, Balotelli was criticized for wasting numerous chances against Spain, Croatia and England.
Germany failed to trouble Italy for much of the match, but Mesut Oezil scored a consolation penalty in injury time after Federico Balzaretti was whistled for a handball.
Italy will face defending champion Spain in Sunday’s final in Kiev, Ukraine a rematch of their 1—1 draw that opened Group C.
While Italy has won four World Cups, it’s only European Championship title came in 1968. Like when they won the 1982 and 2006 World Cups, the Azzurri have managed to maintain their focus despite a match—fixing and betting scandal at home.
While Italy largely sat back and protected its lead in the second half, the Azzurri did produce some dangerous counterattacks.
(Source : The Hindu)