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Mum's the word as Azzurri hero dedicates match-winning goals

MARIO Balotelli insists Sunday's Euro 2012 final will feature the best two teams in the competition.

Balotelli's double was enough to see Italy through to a meeting with holders Spain in Kiev.

It extended Italy's remarkable record against Germany in competitive combat, the 2-1 win meaning two of Europe's true giants have now clashed on eight occasions and the Azzurri have never lost.

"With Spain we are the two best teams in the tournament," said Balotelli. "Can we win? I'll tell you on Sunday."

At the final whistle, Balotelli embraced his adopted mother Silvia, who brought him up from the age of two after he was born in Italy to Ghanaian immigrants.

"After the game, when I went to my mum I said 'these goals are for you'," he said. "I waited for this moment for so long and I wanted to make my mum happy.

"Tonight was the most beautiful of my life -- but I hope that this Sunday is even better."

Balotelli broke the deadlock when he rose to power home Antonio Cassano's 20th-minute cross.

His second was a belter, striding clear of the Germany defence to collect Riccardo Montolivo's superb through ball before blasting an unstoppable shot past Manuel Neuer.

It took Balotelli to three goals for the tournament and he is now favourite to win the coveted Golden Boot prize.

"In the final I hope to make it four," he said. "I will try to score another goal but in football you can do that a lot and still never score.

"Sometimes you need a bit of luck."


Balotelli's efforts earned the praise of Italy manager Cesare Prandelli.

"He was excellent, like the entire team," said Prandelli.

"I really believe that a team needs to have an idea of the way they play, and he really subscribed to this playing style. He ran into space high up the pitch, was always available, and put in a very good performance this evening."

For Germany manager Joachim Low, it was another shattering disappointment.

Despite reaching the last four for the fourth tournament running, they are still to end their wait for a trophy, which stretches back to Euro 96.

"We've had two great years," said Low, whose side suffered their first defeat since the World Cup semi-final against Spain two years ago.

"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 today, we played a wonderful tournament and I am sure we will be able to cope with this defeat."