Balotelli brace seals Italian place in final

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A Mario Balotelli header and a thumping drive gave Italy a richly deserved 2-1 win over Germany in Thursday's Euro 2012 semi-final in Warsaw.

The 21-year-old struck a first half brace to stun the Germans before a Mesut Ozil penalty reduced the deficit at the death.

Italy will play defending champions Spain in the final on Sunday in Kiev.

Balotelli headed in on 20 minutes after a superlative piece of skill and cross from Antonio Cassano, who out-foxed two defenders before delivering the striker his chance on a plate.

Then on 36 minutes Balotelli produced a scintillating second, smashing home from just outside the box after beating the offside trap after a Riccardo Montolivo through ball played him into acres of space.

Balotell removed his shirt and stood stock still to milk the applause - taking the resulting booking as a minor irritation.

Although the Germans put the pressure on after the interval Claudio Marchisio could have added further goals after the break as he broke free twice only to fire narrowly wide.

With 20 minutes remaining Balotelli gave way to Antonio Di Natale after pulling up with cramp.

Di Natale came close as he fired into the side netting late on as the Italians maintained their record of never losing to the Germans at a major tournament.

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