Super Mario does it for his mum
Mario Balotelli fired Italy into the Euro 2012 final - then dedicated his brace to his adopted mother.
Balotelli's first-half double was enough to secure a 2-1 win over Germany in Warsaw, and book a showdown with champions Spain on Sunday.
And at the final whistle, the Manchester City star embraced Silvia, who brought him up from the age of two after he was born in Italy to Ghanaian immigrants, and he said: "After the game, when I went to my mum I said 'these goals are for you'."
He continued: "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."
His brace 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 was quick to heap praise on his team-mates for their contribution to his performance, which surprisingly was not enough to secure the man-of-the-match prize, which went to playmaker Andrea Pirlo.
"These two goals are really important," he said. The first one was a really amazing pass from Antonio Cassano and then it was easy. The second one was a great pass from Montolivo, normally I shoot in the other corner but I went for the near post."
For Germany manager Joachim Low, it was another shattering disappointment as 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. 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."
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