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EURO2012 - Semi-Final: Balotelli sinks Germany as Italy book spot in final

Italy have progressed to the Euro2012 final courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Germany in Warsaw tonight.

Mario Balotelli was the star of the show with a first-half double as Cesare Prandelli's Azzurri saluted against the odds, eliminating Joachin Low's Die Mannschaft who were well-fancied prior to tonight's contest.

Germany started in fine fashion with a few chances early but 20 minutes in, Italy had taken the lead when Antonio Cassano forced himself forward down the left before chipping into the six-yard box for Balotelli to head home with a deadly finish behind Holger Badstuber.

Just over 15 minutes later, Italy were two to the good when Balotelli received a long ball from Riccardo Montolivo before taking control outside the area and advancing to the edge to finish emphatically past a helpless Manuel Neuer for his second.

Germany had peppered the goals without any luck for most of the second half and got their opportunity to get one back in injury-time when Federico Balzaretti was adjudged to have handled in the area with Mesut Ozil stepping up to slot home past a desperate Buffon.

Earlier, Mats Hummels was close to giving Germany the lead in the fifth minute when a corner from the left fell to the defender but he could only put a half-hit shot on target which deflected off Gianluigi Buffon with Andrea Pirlo clearing off the line much to the delight of the Italian gloveman.

Seven minutes later, Jerome Boateng's low cross from the right caused plenty of panic in the Italian box with the ball somehow deflecting off Buffon and Andrea Barzagli moments before Kroos let rip with his left peg which produced a double-fisted clearance from a shaky Buffon.

Germany looked bereft of ideas as the minutes ticked on and that almost offered a way in for Italy with Claudio Marchisio having a great chance to make it 3-0 in the 75th minute when he drove it wide with Antonio Di Natale in a much better scoring position.

The 81st minute saw, Di Natale slam it into the side netting after he had been played through with just Neuer to beat but in the end, it didn't make a difference as the Azzurri forced their way into the decider where they will now meet Spain in Kiev on Sunday.

Euro2012 - Semi-Final

Germany: 1 (Mesut Ozil (p) 90+2') Italy: 2 (Mario Balotelli 20'/36')

National Stadium, Warsaw

Yellow cards:GER - Mats Hummels 90+4' ITA - Mario Balotelli 37', Leonardo Bonucci 60', Daniele De Rossi 84', Thiago Motta 85'

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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