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"Super Mario" inspires Italy to stun Germany at Euro semifinal


09:23, June 29, 2012

Players of Italy celebrates after scoring during the semifinal match between Germany and Italy at the Euro 2012 football championships in Warsaw, Poland, June 28, 2012. Italy won 2-1 to enter the final. (Xinhua/Wu Wei)

WARSAW, June 28 (Xinhua) -- Mario Balotelli on Thursday proved his value with two goals as Italy stunned Germany 2-1 to reach the Euro 2012 final.

Balotelli, who was questioned by some critics for lacking last-shot ability, headed home his first goal and struck the second in the first half to pave the way for Italy, who will face Spain in the final on July 1 in Kiev.

"Mario was excellent like the entire team. He ran into the space in time and were always available in attack. He was concentrated and really in the game," commented by Italian coach Cesare Prandelli.

"We risked a bit today. With a bunch of talented players with great qualities, we can take the control and that's the style what I expect for Italy. All we need to do now is try to recover as soon as possible. Spain is a terrific side," added by the Italian.

Germany, which had been on a world-record 15-match winning streak in competitive fixtures before Thursday's clash, fought to the last second with a Mesut Oezil's penalty in the injury time.

They can still leave the stage with heads up for their faith in attacking football and courage to send a youngest squad to the tournament.

"We won 15 matches in a row but lost to an incredible Italy tonight. Twice in defence we didn't pay attention. Then it was very difficult to turn around," said Germany's coach Joachim Low.

"However, this youngest team have played a wonderful tournament. They can still develop in the future and cope with the difficulties now."

The victory extended Italy's dominant record against Germany in competitive meetings to four wins and four draws.

Facing a favourite side which had scored freely with their attacking style in Poland and Ukraine, Italy survived an early scare just after the opening whistle when Mats Hummels' shot from a corner was blocked on the line by a near-post Andrea Pirlo, who pulled strings in the 90 minutes to help Italy stand keep shape and stand solid in the midfield battle.

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