Cesare Prandelli praised Mario
Balotelli's work rate and character and said Italy had tried to
play football after they overcame a host of missed chances to
beat England in a penalty shootout to reach the semi-finals of
"All the forwards did a very good job tonight. It was
difficult to create chances but we put our heart in it," the
coach told a news conference after Italy secured a last four
clash against Germany with a 4-2 win on spot-kicks following a
0-0 draw after extra time on Sunday.
"We had ideas, we wanted to play in nice little triangles,
keep the ball high up on the pitch.
"We tried to play football, we tried to bring them out of
their defence but they did not want to.
"It could have been more spectacular had we scored inside
the 90 minutes."
Balotelli put a frustrating night behind him when he scored
Italy's first penalty in the shootout, beating Manchester City
team-mate and England keeper Joe Hart low to his right.
"Mario came and said he wanted to take the first penalty.
"It means he has a lot of character. I think he was
excellent," said Prandelli, who then hailed keeper Gianluigi
Buffon who saved Ashley Cole's spot-kick in the shootout.
"He is reliable, all the great players at that moment are
entirely focused on what they have to do technically, nothing
disturbs them and Buffon was up for it.
"He knows he could turn the game around."
The best moment of the match came in the third round of
penalties when Pirlo chipped the ball slowly straight into the
middle of the net as Hart dived to his right.
"He was very calm indeed. He's an absolute star player who
knows exactly what to do, and he did so," Prandelli said.
The deft move became popular in Euro 1976, when Czech
Antonin Panenka beat German goalkeeper Sepp Maier in similar
fashion in the final.
French great Zinedine Zidane also scored what has been
sometimes dubbed a 'Panenka' in the 2006 World Cup final against
Even England manager Roy Hodgson was left to admire Pirlo's
"The cool, calculated way Pirlo chipped it, that is
something you have or you don't have as a player," he said.
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