Balotelli said: “What image I will take this game? Certainly after the game when I went to my mom and I said, ‘These goals are for you.’
“I waited for this moment for so long, especially since Mom came up to here and I wanted to make her happy.
“Tonight was the most beautiful of my life, but I hope that this Sunday is even better. Now we just need to rest assured and beat the Spanish.
“With Spain we are the two best teams in the tournament. Can we win? I’ll tell you on Sunday.”
Balotelli was gracious by claiming both goals were “easy”, thanks to assists from his team-mates.
“The first one was a really amazing pass from Antonio Cassano. When Cassano gives you an assist, it is easy,” he said.
“The second one was a great pass from Montolivo. Normally I shoot in the other corner but I went for the near post.”
Italy boss Cesare Prandelli called Balotelli “unique” and claimed the hot-head striker followed his orders – for once.
Prandelli said: “Balotelli was in the game, focused and did exactly what I asked of him. He has a lot of quality and was always ready.
“Balotelli is unique, a modern striker, atypical if you will. He’s very strong physically, and can fight for the team, but is always there when called upon in the penalty area.
“He was struggling for seven or eight minutes, so I didn’t want ot risk him with a few days until the final. He had a bit of cramp and a muscle problem. That is all.
“Spain are a brilliant side, play great football but we will prepare well.”
Germany captain Philipp Lahm said: “Every defeat is bitter, we wanted to still be in the tournament but we didn’t manage it.
“But if you don’t show your potential at the right time in certain situations you will lose the game. That is what happened.”
For Germany manager Joachim Low, it was another shattering disappointment.
Despite reaching the last four for the fourth World Cup or Euros running, they are still to end a wait for a trophy which stretches back to Euro 96.
Italy also ended Germany’s 15-match winning streak in competitive matches.
“We’ve had two great years,” said Low. “The team has really developed well. We won 15 games in a row but lost today against an incredibly strong Italian side, with a strong axis and two great strikers.
“There’s no reason to doubt ourselves. Our team was the youngest team here.
“Even though there’s disappointment, we played a wonderful tournament and I am sure we will be able to cope with this defeat.”
It’s incredible how an impeccable reputation can become so tarnished in just a couple of disastrous hours.
No, I’m not talking about the German football team – now heading home after a gutless display against the Italians.
I’m talking about Alan Shearer.
It’s just a few days since Al was the cock of the BBC pundit walk.
Not any more.
How fast things change.
Back then, Shearer was the standout kid.
His shirt pretty much matched Alan Hansen’s, but the Geordie John Rocha had gone ape and added a second collar.
His fellow pundits were baffled, bewildered, tongue-tied. But that was then.
Tonight, Shearer was tongue-tied and came a sorry third in the linguistic stakes, thrashed by two men from foreign lands – Jurgen Klinsmann and Gianluca Vialli.
The German and Italian were comfortable and at ease – with each other and English, their second language.
Previewing the German side, Vialli doffed his imaginary cap to Klinsmann, saying: “You started the revolution in 2006. Now you see a side that plays very modern football.”
It was an astute observation.
You could almost see Alan straining to interrupt with: “Hey! I started a revolution too – a SHIRT REVOLUTION”.
But instead, he realised that he was among intelligent men and bided his time.
After a few more clips, Shearer took control of the situation and introduced Klinsmann’s ‘2006 revolution’ into the conversation.
Are you familiar with it? Yes, it’s the one that Vialli had discussed just 10 minutes earlier.
Leaning across like a man trying to tell a fellow bus passenger that his flies were undone, Shearer urged Klinsmann to “Tell us about the 2006 revolution and some of the things you changed”.
Yeah, we’ve already done that, Al.
Clearly perturbed without the safety net of his super-shirt, Shearer went on to struggle with the pronunciation of the name of the German defender Holger Badstuber.
Hmm, yes, it’s a tricky one.
Analysing Italy’s first goal at half-time, Shearer said: “Poor defending, yes, but he’s bigger than the defender, he’s stronger than the, er, defender, er… Tsubats, and he wants the ball more than him…”
For a broadcaster who’s paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to KNOW ABOUT THIS SORT OF STUFF, it’s not great.
He had another go later on, once the game had finished and the Shearer adrenaline had stopped pumping, referring to the German this time as ‘Batsduber’.
Oooh, it’s good, but it’s not right (as Roy Walker might have said on Catchphrase).
Maybe Al is better off analysing the toned bodies of the players. While recounting musclebound Balotelli’s shirt-off goal celebration, he said: “If I had a body like that, I’d take my shirt off too!’
Are you sure, Alan?
The two-collared shirt?
Taking THAT off is what got you in the mess that you’re in!
David Beckham has revealed he will not be playing for Great Britain in this summer’s London Olympics.
The former England captain made Stuart Pearce’s shortlist of 35 but was not selected for the final 18-man pool as one of three players over the age of 23 allowed to compete.
Beckham 37, said: “Everyone knows how much playing for my country has always meant to me. So I would have been honored to have been part of this unique Team GB squad.”
He added: “Naturally I am very disappointed, but there will be no bigger supporter of the team than me. And like everyone, I will be hoping they can win the gold.”
Beckham had been heavily favored to be involved after being instrumental in helping Sebastian Coe, the head of the London organizing committee, and his team win the rights to stage the games in the 2005 vote.
He added: “As a Londoner, I will have been really proud to have played a small part in bringing the Olympics to my home town as part of Seb’s team, and I can’t wait for the games to begin and enjoy every moment along with the rest of Great Britain.”
Manchester City’s 24-year old right-back Micah Richards appears to be the player chosen ahead of Beckham.
Beckham is understood to have been told by Pearce that he had chosen to pick Richards instead because he wanted stronger defensive options.
The former England midfielder had been on the 35-man shortlist and Pearce had flown out to the United States to watch him in action for the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The player could also point out that he would have at least been match-fit while all the other players would be entering the tournament after the summer break.
Ther other two over-age players, Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy were widely expected to be included but the call-up of Richards is also as a surprise as the Manchester City defender was left out of England’s Euro 2012 squad – after which he refused to go on standby for the European Championship.
Other under-23 players who are almost certain to be confirmed by Pearce include Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey and Tottenham’s Gareth Bale.
The Olympic snub could spell the end of Beckham’s representative career. England’s most-capped outfield player made the last of his 115 appearances for England in 2009.
Meanwhile Becks’ odds of lighting the Olympic flame have been slashed by bookmakers Ladbrokes.
Which three players aged over 23 would you like to see in the GB Olympic squad? Have your say by leaving a comment
Roy Hodgson has been backed to make England footballing giants again by Germany counterpart Joachim Loew.
For the fourth major tournament running, the Germans have reached the semi-final stage, with Loew looking to preside over victory against Italy in Warsaw tonight.
By contrast, England have not reached the last four of any tournament since Euro 96 and are once again licking their wounds after exiting at the quarter-final stage.
Loew does not have a magic wand. However, after being directly responsible for England’s elimination from the last World Cup, he has detected a significant improvement under Hodgson, which he is certain will continue.
“The English were much better in this tournament than in 2010,” he said.
“When they played us then, they were a team who had a lot of problems.
“Roy Hodgson has brought order into the side and has done a great job.
“[At Euro 2012] they were a very well organised team.
“England will develop under him in the next few years and, in the next tournament, they’ll play a better role than they did here and certainly than they did in 2010.”
Loew’s comments are a slap in the face for Hodgson’s predecessor Fabio Capello, who has been making waves of his own this week, hinting Wayne Rooney only performs well for Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
Fulham will announce the signing of the man who ended Steve McClaren’s England career today.
Croatian international midfielder Mladen Petric, 31, hit the winning goal for his country against England which meant McClaren’s men could not qualify for Euro 2008.
Fulham boss Martin Jol has swooped for the player he worked with at Hamburg after the 31-year-old was released by the German club at the end of the season.
Petric also has history with Fulham, having scored against them for Hamburg in the semi-final of the Europa League campaign which saw the Londoners beaten only in the Final by Atletico Madrid two years ago.
The Cottagers have beaten off interest from Spanish sides Malaga, Deportivo and Real Sociedad to land him.
Petric hit scored 38 goals in 98 games for Hamburg. He has also scored 12 goals in 44 appearances for Croatia but left out of the squad for Poland and Ukraine by Slaven Bilic.
Arsene Wenger has kept his side of the bargain. Now let’s wait and see what Robin van Persie does next.
No-one can criticise Arsenal this time as they have done their business early and brought in two top class signings in Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud.
If that is not proving their ambition then please tell me what is. Wenger is building an Arsenal team he thinks can challenge for trophies.
There’s still strengthening to be done. Another centre half and possibly cover at left back. Here’s an interesting theory: Kieran Gibbs to be promoted to first choice left back with Andre Santos pushed up to left side of midfield.
Yann M’Vila is still on the radar and if Arsenal cannot agree terms with Theo Walcott – who also has one year left – then they may listen to offers and will need to replace him. Chelsea retain a keen interest in Walcott.
It promises to be another busy summer but everything will be dominated by van Persie. You can take the signings of Giroud and Podolski two ways.
The first and positive version is that they are trying to build a title winning team. The second is that they are planning for life without their Dutch skipper.
It’s pretty clear that van Persie won’t be signing a new deal any time soon. The offer of a three-year deal worth £130,000-a-week and a £5m signing-on fee was on the table before the Euros and yet remains unsigned. That’s one hell of a deal.
Manchester City remain keen but even the richest club in the world need to balance their books. So Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko, Emmanuel Adebayor and Roque Santa Cruz may all have to be sold first.
That means this will be anything but straight forward. To say that the deal will be completed quickly is surely naive. These complex transfers rarely happen quickly or easily and Arsenal’s transfers – both ins and outs – are renowned for dragging on.
Arsenal will meet again with van Persie after his holiday and before the club’s pre-season trip to Asia. Talks are ongoing with his representatives.
But they have to make a decision as to whether to sell now, cash in and try for £30m or hold him to the last year of his contract.
That will come down to van Persie’s attitude. If it is clear that he is going to sulk like Cesc Fabregas did last summer then my bet is that he will be sold.
We like to think that van Persie will be professional and focused. If he is then they will keep him to the final year of his contract. He can then walk away for free, get a lucrative move, great final pay day and Arsenal will feel fine with that as he will be 30 going on 31.
But let’s be honest. Van Persie’s form dipped towards the end of the season. Was that tiredness, fatigue – or because he’d lost his focus? Even a one per cent drop in focus makes a world of difference for a top class player like him.
Van Persie finished the season dragging himself and Arsenal over the finishing line to get third place. He had a great season, was prolific, deserved every accolade and yet that was one great season in eight.
No-one can underestimate his ability. But as for consistency, it does raise question marks and even though it would be an unpopular move you could see why Arsenal would sell this summer.
Van Persie went to the Euros, Holland were disappointing, the Dutch media pointed much of the blame at Arsenal’s captain and suddenly you realise that there must be a lot going on in his head right now.
Yes, he loves London as does his family. But they also have nice schools, parks and houses elsewhere. He’s not from England and you could argue therefore doesn’t also have the same English negativity towards Juventus and Italian football.
That’s one option, but Manchester City seems the most likely as Real Madrid and Barcelona have yet to come in with firm approaches.
Joking aside, Arsenal fans, I believe, would forgive him for going anywhere but City. But another player – after Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy decamping to the Etihad – would be too much to take.
But there’s not too much in the way of competition. Players don’t fancy PSG or Anzhi despite the money on offer. There’s not huge money in Spain so clubs are trying to limit themselves to one stellar signing. Italian football doesn’t have the appeal it did in the 1980s.
It is surely City or bust for van Persie and that means that a deal gets complicated. With little competition, the price can stay low and then that means Arsenal won’t want to sell. City need to offload other high earners on their books with Financial Fair Play in mind.
City are also trying to bring down their wage bill. Will van Persie accept getting a lot less in his final contract than other stars at City?
There are so many obstacles. It’s clear that van Persie is restless, ambitious and considering his future as he wants to win silverware.
But, rather like last summer and the year before that, it’s not a deal that will be done easily, if at all. Arsenal played a tough game of poker with Fabregas. They held him to an extra year when they refused to let him go in 2010.
Arsenal have learnt lessons from last summer’s transfer shambles. No last minute supermarket sweep this year. Early deals have already been done.
If there’s another lesson then it must be to never let key players and valuable assets like van Persie, Walcott and Nasri go into the final TWO years of their contracts let alone the final year.
They should be signed up two years in advance. Early transfers have been addressed, contracts still haven’t. By all accounts, they are dragging their feet on other contracts across every level and players find it frustrating.
But there’s no way that van Persie will be allowed to leave unless every element of the transfer is right. Fee, contract and replacements.
Errani is having by far the best season of her career but is much more at home on clay than grass, and there was some optimism Keothavong might be able to push her.
However, the 28-year-old began very nervously, with a second serve in the opening game that was closer to the baseline than the service line, and she did not get on the scoreboard until the fifth game.
Errani was playing well, keeping the ball close to the lines and troubling Keothavong with her use of the drop shot – one of the keys to her French Open success.
The second set was slightly less one-sided. Keothavong was broken in the fourth game but had two chances to break straight back, only for Errani to find the line both times.
When the Italian broke again to lead 5-1, it was all but over, and she confidently held serve to triumph 6-1 6-1 and move through to a third-round meeting with Yaroslava Shvedova or Kiki Bertens.
Keothavong at least has the consolation of knowing she will be back at the All England Club in a month’s time after being given a wild card for the women’s singles at the Olympics.