Balotelli double downs Germany as Italy march on

Mario Balotelli struck twice to seal Italy's 2-1 semi-final win over Germany 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.

"It is a very, very bitter defeat," admitted Germany captain Philipp Lahm.

"We made stupid mistakes and we shouldn't have conceded the goals in the way we did.

"When you fall behind against the Italians, it makes life very difficult.

"The most bitter part is that this team has so much potential for more than this, but we weren't clever enough."

Having dropped three of his forwards for last Friday's 4-2 quarter-final win over Greece, Loew again tinkered with his starting line-up, but this time it back-fired as the Germans lacked an effective Plan B when things went wrong.

Arsenal-bound Lukas Podolski was hauled off at half-time, striker Mario Gomez also made way for 34-year-old veteran Miroslav Klose after the break, while Toni Kroos barely troubled the Italian defence from the right wing.

Germany had a couple of golden chances early on, but the Azzurri soon asserted themselves and after Riccardo Montolivo tested Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, Italy took the lead on 20 minutes.

Antonio Cassano ghosted through two German defenders and crossed for Balotelli to beat his marker Holger Badstuber and slam his header past Neuer.

It was the first time since the Euro 2008 final Germany had fallen behind in a European Championship match after their ten wins in qualifying and their four wins so far at Euro 2012.

The perplexed looks in the German ranks told their own tale.

Rattled, the Germans tried to reassert themselves with Mesut Ozil and Gomez both squandering half chances, but Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon stood up to the challenge in goal before the Azzurri struck again.

A sublime pass from Fiorentina's Montolivo split the German defence and gave Balotelli all the space he needed to curl his shot past Neuer on 36 minutes.

With the Germans now reeling, Reus was quickly into the action after replacing Podolski and tested Buffon with a well-struck free-kick with an hour gone.

But the Italians were not to be denied their first European final since their Euro 2000 defeat to France when Claudio Marchisio fired wide on 67 minutes and again eight minutes later.

A handball by Federico Balzaretti in the 92nd minute gave Germany brief hope as referee Stephane Lannoy pointed to the spot and Ozil blasted home the spot-kick, but it was too little, too late.

The Azzurri can now dream of denying world and European champions Spain a third consecutive major title on Sunday.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippines hits back at Beijing over South China Sea
    Philippines hits back at Beijing over South China Sea

    The Philippines on Saturday shot back at Beijing's criticism of its activities in the South China Sea, saying they were "in no way comparable to China's massive reclamation activities" in the waters. It also said accusations that Manila was being "hypocritical" would not distract people from Beijing's own actions which were raising regional tensions. "The Philippines' possible undertaking of necessary maintenance and repairs on its existing facilities in the West Philippine Sea... is in no …

  • Boxing hero Pacquiao is top tax-payer in Philippines: govt
    Boxing hero Pacquiao is top tax-payer in Philippines: govt

    Boxing hero Manny Pacquiao, who faces his biggest fight against unbeaten American Floyd Mayweather, already holds top spot as the number one taxpayer in the Philippines, government records showed Saturday. A list of top individual tax-payers for 2013, posted on the Bureau of Internal Revenue website, put the boxer-turned-congressman at number one with 163.84 million pesos ($3.72 million) in taxes paid. Internal revenue chief Kim Henares confirmed that Pacquiao topped the list but stressed …

  • Phl, Japan sign P9.6-B ODA projects
    Phl, Japan sign P9.6-B ODA projects

    The Philippines and Japan have signed agreements for six official development assistance (ODA) projects amounting to 22.289 billion yen or around P9.6 billion. …

  • Commission to launch glossary of Pinoy meteorological terms
    Commission to launch glossary of Pinoy meteorological terms

    The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) will release a glossary of meteorological terms in Filipino to help the Filipino people better understand weather forecasts and instill disaster awareness among them. National Artist for Literature and KWF president Virgilio Almario said yesterday the KWF produced the glossary titled Patnubay sa Weder Forkast to simplify scientific terms used in the weather bulletins of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration …

  • Divorce bill good scapegoat for couples – CBCP
    Divorce bill good scapegoat for couples – CBCP

    Contrary to what romance novel writers would want their readers to believe, there are no perfect marriages in the real world. This was according to Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas. In a statement titled “CBCP Position Against the Divorce Bill and Against the Decriminalization of Adultery and Concubinage,” Villegas said that while it is not easy to make relationships last, learning how to work out differences – and …

  • DND holds off infra dev’t in Pag-Asa
    DND holds off infra dev’t in Pag-Asa

    The defense department is holding off repairs and other planned infrastructure projects on Pag-Asa Island, one of seven islets and two reefs occupied by Filipino troops in the disputed Spratly Islands. Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario pointed out that the maintenance and repair of facilities in Pag-Asa Island are not covered by the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of parties involved in the West Philippine Sea territorial disputes. “Repair and maintenance is okay but before …

  • Blackout to hit 5 Aurora towns
    Blackout to hit 5 Aurora towns

    An 11-hour power outage will hit five towns in Aurora on Tuesday, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) announced yesterday. The NGCP said Baler, Dingalan, San Luis, Ma. Aurora and Dipaculao would be affected by the blackout. The NGCP said parts of Nueva Ecija and Aurora were hit by a power interruption yesterday due to the tripping of the Cabanatuan-Baler 69kV line. …

  • Rules set for climate change programs
    Rules set for climate change programs

    The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Climate Change Commission (CCC) have released the revised guidelines to track and monitor climate change adaptation programs of the government. “The government of the Philippines has demonstrated leadership and strong commitment in implementing a comprehensive reform agenda to respond to climate change,” read the joint memorandum circular published in The STAR yesterday. “With the goal of using the budget process to plan, prioritize and …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options