Euro 2012: Balotelli sinks Germany, Italy enter final
Striker 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 marched on to the final.
Striker 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 marched on to the final. (All AFP and AP Images)
Balotelli 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 - crashed out.
The 21-year-old Manchester City striker opened the scoring on 20 minutes, and added another in the 36th minute to take his tally to three in the tournament.
Balotelli's fist goal was set up by Antonio Cassano (seen here with his son) who ghosted through two German defenders and crossed for the striker to beat his marker Holger Badstuber and slam his header past Manuel Neuer.
Cassano found an unusual way to celebrate the win, dropping his shorts and handing it to a fan post the match.
Sportsmanship at its best! Scorer Balotelli shakes hands with Neuer, the man - as Germany's goalkeeper - at the receiving end of those goals.
A late penalty from Mesut Ozil proved no more than a consolation for the Germans whose 16-year wait for a major title continues.
Dubbed as a battle between the creative prowess of Italy's Andrea Pirlo and Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger, it turned out to be a one-sided affair.
Germany were for most parts bested by Italy and when they did create chances, Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon stood up to the challenge in the goal.
Reus came close with a fantastic free-kick but Buffon made a fine save and parried the ball away to safety.
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.