Euro 2012: Mario Balotelli scores twice in 2-1 Italian win
(CBS News) The outspoken and often-temperamental Mario Balotelli was all smiles in Warsaw today as the Italian national team knocked Germany out of Euro 2012. The striker scored both of Italy's goals in a 2-1 semi-final match that was all but over by half-time.
Italian teams are generally better known for stout defense than aggressive attacking tactics, but Balotelli and his team turned up the heat against the Germans almost immediately. In the 20th minute of the first half, Italian forward Antonio Cassano managed to work the ball to the edge of Germany's penalty box. Fighting off two defenders, Cassano sent the ball across goal, where Balotelli struck a powerful header to put Italy up 1-0.
Fifteen minutes later, a soaring pass from Riccardo Montolivo found Balotelli in open space on the German side of the field. He touched the ball twice before firing a rocket past goalkeeper Manuel Neuer for Italy's second goal.Newspaper apologizes for cartoon depicting soccer star Mario Balotelli as King Kong
The second half started much like the first. With Germany forced to attack, the Italians were able to find space behind the German lines and missed several near-chances that would have sealed the game for good.
A late handball by the Italians in their own penalty box in the first minute of stoppage time (the 91st minute of the game) led to a penalty kick, taken by German midfielder Mesut Ozil, who gave the Germans their only goal of the match. But it came too late to change the outcome of the game.
Italy goes on to face the defending champions Spain in the final on Sunday. Spain and Italy were in the same group stage earlier in the tournament, where they played out a 1-1 draw - the only game Spain has not won in Euro 2012.
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