Super Mario sends Azzurri to the final
Italian players celebrating after Mario Balotelli scored the first goal
Mario Balotelli grabbed a first half brace as Italy defeated Germany 2-1 in the sem-final of the Euro 2012 on Thursday night at the Stadion Narodowy in Warszawa to book a place in the final on Sunday night against world and European champions Spain. Mesut Ozil netted a late consolation goal for the Germans to give the Azzurri a few nervy moments.
Germany could have taken the line as early as the sixth minute through a corner kick. The kick found centre-back Mats Hummels, but the big man couldn't get a great connection on the ball. The ball was blocked on the line by Pirlo, and gathered by a very grateful Gianluigi Buffon.
Six minutes later the German were unfortunate not score when Jerome Boateng made the overlap and sent in a good cross, and Buffon could only knock the ball into the retreating Barzagli. It almost resulted in a horrible own goal but the ball rolled just wide of goal.
But with those two Germany chances, Italy was the first side to trouble the score keepers.
A super passing move had Pirlo picked out Chiellini, who found Cassano and sent in a clipped cross towards the Man City bad boy Balotelli. He jumped higher than German defender Badstuber, and headed firmly past German keeper Manuel Neuer. 1-0 to Italy after 20 minutes.
In the 33rd minute the Azzurri could have doubled their lead. Antonio Cassano killed the ball stone dead on the box, and played in his teammate just inside the area. He should have hit it first time, but he hesitated and took a touch and Badstuber made a crucial intervention.
Three minutes the Italians finally doubled their lead. A ball forward from Giorgio Chiellini split the German defence in two, Balotelli latched on to it and unleashed a rocket into the top corner to make 2-0.
The Azzurri took a 2-0 lead into the half time break. Four minutes after the restart Germany could have pulled one back. Schweinsteiger was the creator, and Kroos flicked his pass into the path of the German captain Philipp Lahm. But from 20-yards, the skipper couldn't test Buffon, and sent his shot high into the stands.
On the hour mark mark Buffon made a brilliant save to keep his side in the match. An effort from Reus looked like it was going in but from just under the bar, the Italian stopper got a strong hand to the ball and punched clear of his crossbar.
Heading into the 90th minute the match looked all set and done but the Italians were made to have a few nerving minutes in injury time. Balzaretti was adjudged to have handled the ball under pressure from Miroslav Klose and Mesut Ozil calmly slotted into the top corner to make it 2-1 in the 93rd minute. For the final two minutes Italy were made to sweat but they prevailed as victors as the Germans left it late to mount a comeback.
Italy who was the better side by a distance in this clash will face Spain in Kiev on Sunday night for title of European supremacy.