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Super Mario takes Italy to final

Two magnificent goals from Italy’s Mario Balotelli saw off the swaggering Germans and sent Italy into the final of Euro 2012. Italy tamed and controlled the attacking verve of the German side and seized their opportunities.

Germany’s papers had featured confident headlines about their team’s destiny before the match, but Italy has a habit of dashing German dreams in major tournaments. By half-time Balotelli’s powerful header and unstoppable shot had given them a 2-0 lead. They defended confidently and comfortably in a second half when they should have increased their lead.

A stoppage-time penalty from Mesut Ozil meant the last couple of minutes were a little nervy for the Italians. Balotelli, substituted by then, didn’t want to watch, but he and his team-mates will head to Kiev for the final showdown with Spain.

"Tonight was the most beautiful of my life, but I hope that this Sunday is even better," Balotelli said. "I've waited for this moment so long, and it was even more special given that my mother came to watch and I so wanted to make her happy. After the game I went over to her and said: 'Those goals are for you.'"

It was understandable if it was an emotional occasion for the 21 year-old. His time as an Italian international has not been easy, with racist abuse from some fans in previous appearances, and a difficult relationship with Italian managers.

"How do you try to work out what goes on in the head of such a young man?" asked the current boss Cesare Prandelli. That will be Spain’s task in the final.

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