wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost2

Most Read: Sports

http://www.washingtonpost.com/2010/07/06/ABMK8PP_linkset.html
Complete soccer coverage
Posted at 05:17 PM ET, 06/28/2012

Euro 2012: Mario Balotelli sends Italy to 2-1 win over Germany in semifinals

Once again, we turn to the anonymous Stats Inc. live commentator for our roundup of Italy’s 2-1 win over Germany in the Euro 2012 semfinals. Italy advanced to play Spain on Sunday for the title.

0’ — LINEUPS: Lukas Podolski and Mario Gomez are restored to the Germany XI but Thomas Muller is left on the bench as Toni Kroos is handed his first start of the tournament. Andre Schurrle, Miroslav Klose and Marco Reus drop out. Italy welcome back Giorgio Chiellini to the heart of their defence. Ignazio Abate is out injured but Daniele De Rossi has overcome his fitness worry and starts, as do Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano up front. Full line-ups: GERMANY: Neuer; Boateng, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm; Schweinsteiger, Khedira, Ozil; Kroos, Gomez, Podolski. ITALY: Buffon; Bonucci, Barzagli, Chiellini, Balzaretti; Pirlo; Marchisio, De Rossi, Montolivo; Cassano, Balotelli.

6’ — Heart in mouth time for Italy as centre half Mats Hummels directs a Kroos corner goalwards — Buffon spills it but Pirlo clears off the line. Not like the Juventus keeper to make an error like that.

10’ — It’s been a long while since we’ve seen a goal at Euro 2012. Xabi Alonso's late penalty for Spain against France on Saturday was the last one. Since then England v Italy and Portugal v Spain have given us 240 minutes of goalless “action”. We’re up to 250 now. Sort it out lads.

20’ — GOAL ITALY! This is what you call a game changer. Germany have fallen behind for the first time in the tournament and it’s MARIO BALOTELLI who has broken the deadlock. It’s a breathtakingly simple goal — he nods a Cassano cross past a helpless Neuer from close range. Lacklustre defending from Germany, who made it easy for the Italians. Good work from Cassano though. As for Balotelli — well it’s always him isn't it?

30’ — Germany continue to pepper the Italy goal — Kroos with the latest attempt — but they're not really stretching Buffon. Italy look fairly comfortable.

34’ — Huge chance for 2-0 here. A wonderful Balotelli cross-field pass sets Italy going, with Cassano playing to Montolivo who criminally hesitates when just eight yards out, trying to move it onto his right foot. Badstuber then clears. Big opportunity that.

35’ — Fantastic save from Buffon who pushes a fiercely-struck Khedira volley behind for a corner.

36’ — GOAL ITALY! MARIO BALOTELLI has arrived on the world stage. Yes, he really is as good as he’s been telling us. The Man City striker doubles Italy’s lead with a truly fabulous strike — latching onto Montolivo’s raking pass over the top and hammering into the top corner from the edge of the area. Hummels and Badstuber were caught on their heels there.

37’ — Balotelli was booked after the goal for taking his shirt off. Not sure he’s too fussed now, but the script is surely set for a petulant second booking in the second half.

38’ — Neuer didn’t even move, by the way. Balotelli just seared his laces through the ball and it curled into the side netting. Unstoppable. And what a scoreline we have now.

43’ — Remember, Germany have never beaten Italy in a competitive fixture (in other words, an international tournament). If they end that hoodoo tonight we’re in for some second half.

45’ — HALFTIME, ITALY 2-0: What a turn up for the books in Warsaw. Germany, many people’s favourites to win the tournament, have twice capitulated to allow Mario Balotelli to fire Italy into a shock two-goal lead. They were two excellent finishes from Balotell, particuarly the second, and Germany have offered little in response. Now Italy just need to do what they do best — defend — and they’ll be in the final.

45’ — Joachim Low has reacted by withdrawing Mario Gomez and Lukas Podolski. Miroslav Klose and Marco Reus, who both scored against Greece in the quarters, are charged with dragging Germany back into this game.

49’ — What a chance for Philipp Lahm! Tricky interplay from Low’s side and Lahm makes a great run into the box — he’s playing in 15 yards out but balloons his shot over the bar. Germany mean business though — they’ve come storming out of the blocks in this second half.

55’ — Another Germany chance — they’re running Italy ragged. Ozil gets to the right byline and cuts back into the six-yard box, but it’s scrambled clear by the Italians with Khedira lurking.

60’ — Respite for Italy as Balotelli goes it alone, jinking into the box before drilling across goal from the right. He definitely fancies a hat-trick.

62’ — Reus angles a curling free kick goalwards — it’s too central to beat Buffon, but the keeper still has to tip over the bar at full stretch.

68’ — Very nearly game, set and match. Marchisio plays a one-two before flashing wide from the edge of the area. Neuer was beaten.

70’ — Balotelli could probably shake it off [a cramp] but Prandelli elects to send on Antonio Di Natale. What a night it’s been for Balotelli, who has properly announced himself on the international stage. And he managed to avoid getting sent off.

75’ — Difficult to pinpoint exactly where it’s all gone wrong for Germany tonight. Their usual vibrancy and fluency has just been lacking, and those two lapses of concentration at the back were all Italy needed.

76’ — Should be all over now, without a doubt, but Marchisio drags his shot across goal from close range. He had Di Natale for company but chose to ignore him and go for glory.

82’ — What a waste this is from Antonio Di Natale. He’s sent clean through with Germany playing an incredibly high line, but hesitates to shoot and then fires into the side netting with just Neuer to beat. Very poor finish. How many chances do Italy want to kill this game off?

87’ — It’s not quite the kitchen sink but Germany are throwing a substantial household object at Italy. Perhaps a bread bin. Anyway, the Italians are holding firm for now.

90’ — Low can't even watch the game anymore — he’s got a huge sulk on. Four minutes left for Germany to pull off the impossible.

90’ — They couldn't, could they??? Balzaretti handles in the box under pressure from Klose. Penalty for Germany.

90’ — GOAL GERMANY! MESUT OZIL keeps his cool and slots to Buffon’s left, into the side netting. The keeper went the right way but couldn't get a paw on it. Two minutes to go.

90’ — Buffon and Bonucci get in a muddle over clearing a through ball, before Bonucci takes charge. Massively tense moments here.

90’ — Last chance saloon time. Neuer’s up for a free kick. But they’ve taken it short and the ref blows his whistle! Time has run out for the crestfallen Germans. Italy, against all odds, are through to the final.

By  |  05:17 PM ET, 06/28/2012

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company