Mario Balotelli wrote a new chapter in what is a growing legend tonight, scoring two sumptuous goals to lead Italy past Germany 2-1 and into the finals of the European Championships .
The game was neither as close as the final scoreline suggests - nor, for a half, as far apart as many will assume from watching the highlights. Tonight saw a sleek, fast Italy press Germany all over the pitch, but the difference was that while the Germans missed their chances, Italy sunk theirs.
The irony is that this Italy team wasn't even supposed to be here. Dogged by the latest match-fixing scandal to hit their soccer leagues, Italy was forced by the investigation to leave Domenico Criscito home, and saw venerable keeper Gianluigi Buffon answer a number of uncomfortable questions about gambling. Cesare Prandelli was seen as a more than capable manager but he was also perceived as presiding over a squad that was aging, slow and unbalanced.
Since then, the Italians have sprung a series of surprise...