Balotelli fires Italy into final

By
Updated: June 29, 2012

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.

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.