AC Milan striker Stephan El Shaarawy felt his partnership with Mario Balotelli worked for Italy last night.

The Azzurri lost 2-1 to France with El Shaarawy and Manchester City forward Balotelli leading the line.

El Shaarawy said: "Mario is a great player who can also give you goal scoring opportunities. Riccardo Montolivo gave me a great pass and I nutmegged the goalkeeper, so it was a wonderful goal.

"I hope we can be the pairing of the future. I am going through a good period right now and hope it continues.

"I found it difficult with the 4-3-3 when I gathered with my back to goal, as France are very physical and made it tough for me to turn.

"I like playing wide left, it is the role I prefer the most, and allows me to alternate attacking and defending.

"The Coach asked me to help out the team, even go back to the edge of my own box if necessary, and I am at his disposal."