WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Mario Balotelli finally showed some quality finishing, scoring twice to give Italy a 2-0 lead over Germany at halftime Thursday in the European Championship semifinals.
In the 20th minute, Balotelli had no trouble getting past Holger Badstuber to head in a pinpoint cross from Antonio Cassano. Then in the 36th, the 21-year-old striker received the ball behind the defense and blasted a long shot into the top right corner.
While he did score against Ireland, Balotelli was criticized for wasting numerous chances in matches against Spain, Croatia and England.
Italy has never lost to Germany in seven meetings at major tournaments and the Azzurri are poised to extend their unbeaten streak.
The winner will face defending champion Spain in Sunday's final.