Italy coach Cesare Prandelli hailed striker Mario Balotelli, whose two goals helped his side sink Germany 2-1 on Thursday to reach the final of Euro 2012.
“He was excellent as was the entire team,” Prandelli said.
“A team needs an idea of how they play and he prescribes to this playing style. He put in a really good performance. He was really in the game, was much focused and did exactly what I asked him to.” Balotelli scored with a header from a cross by strike partner Antonio Cassano in the 20th minute before belting in a second in the 36th to take his tally for the tournament to three.
The Manchester City striker came off in the 70th minute suffering from cramp as the Azzurri held on despite a stoppage-time penalty from Mesut Oezil.
“I saw he was struggling for seven or eight minutes and I did not want to risk him. He had a bit of cramp, a bit of a muscle problem,” Prandelli said.
Cassano, who was substituted in the 58th minute, was also praised by Prandelli. “This has been his best performance so far. He fought, he ran, we knew he could be one of our key players. He might only have 50 minutes in his legs but they are 50 fantastic minutes,” Prandelli said.
“I am very proud of these young players, of this side. They (Germany) have very good players. They are a young side but we are a team that has a lot of ideas of how we want to play the game.
“We have no time to celebrate but must concentrate on the next game, which is the most important one in the tournament. You dream but this is only the beginning of the dream.” The coach said the team would now need to rest before taking on Spain on Sunday although Italy drew 1-1 with them in the group stage.
“Let’s not talk straight away about Spain. They are a terrific side but we will try to prepare well for Sunday’s game just as we did for this evening,” Prandelli said.
Keywords: Euro 2012