Prandelli cautions Balotelli

17 June 2013 11:16

Italy head coach Cesare Prandelli revelled in a Confederations Cup victory over Mexico at the Maracana but warned his match-winning striker Mario Balotelli to stop "flexing his muscles".

The Azzurri joined tournament hosts Brazil at the top of Group A with three points from a 2-1 win in Rio de Janeiro, with Balotelli deciding the game after Javier Hernandez had cancelled out Andrea Pirlo's opener with a penalty before half-time. Juventus midfielder Pirlo, representing Italy for the 100th time, had curled home a sublime free-kick to leave Prandelli purring but Balotelli's booking for removing his shirt in celebration of his late finish earned the AC Milan man an unnecessary yellow card and some stern words from his coach.

"There are no words when it comes to Pirlo - he is an example to everybody," Prandelli told

"Balotelli, on the other hand, must stop flexing his muscles, because every yellow card counts and we will pay for them.

"We were very emotional before the game because playing at the Maracana has a certain effect on you, but during the game we were focused and played great football."

After latching onto Emanuele Giaccherini's ball over the top in the 78th minute, Balotelli tucked past Jose Corona before removing his shirt to celebrate.

But after being booked for unsportsmanlike behaviour he pleaded ignorance, saying: "I didn't know about the rule and I won't do it again. We are here to do everything we can to reach the final and this team, in my opinion, has the quality to get there.

"We felt great tonight and played a good game in front of a brilliant set of fans."

After making his Azzurri debut in Azerbaijan 11 years ago, veteran playmaker Pirlo was delighted to reach a century of appearances at such an iconic venue.

"It was a big deal to play my 100th game in a stadium like the Maracana," he said. "I also scored so things went even better than I imagined. We knew Mexico were a good team and that's why we studied them in such detail. In the end we deserved to win."

Source: PA