Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Italy coach Prandelli: Mario Balotelli will learn from Euro 2012 woe

Mario Balotelli of Italy
Cesare Prandelli
DONETSK, UKRAINE - JUNE 19: England fans celebrate during the UEFA EURO 2012 group D match between England and Ukraine at Donbass Arena on June 19, 2012 in Donetsk, Ukraine. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has told striker Mario Balotelli he will emerge stronger from the shattering experience of last night's Euro 2012 final hammering by Spain in Kiev.

The Azzurri conceded twice in each half as they were overpowered by the defending champions.

It left Balotelli shattered after he had gone into the game with such high hopes.

The Manchester City man stormed straight down the tunnel at the final whistle, and angrily shrugged off the attempts of Italian officials to stop him.

Balotelli eventually returned to collect his medal.

"I told Mario that these are experiences you have to deal with and have to accept," said Prandelli.

"You have to hold your hands up and say the opponents were better, accept defeat.

"But you also have to make sure this helps you going forward and you can grow from the experience.

"This has happened to a number of players, and will happen again, but this is what sport is all about."

Strangely, Italy enjoyed the majority of possession in the first-half but still found themselves two goals down through David Silva and Jordi Alba.

However, an injury to their final substitute, Thiago Motta, within four minutes of his introduction, forced Italy to complete the final half hour with 10 men.

And, in their third game in a week, which included that draining period of extra-time against England, it was too much.

"We've had a terrific European Championship and the only regret is the fact we didn't have a few extra days to rest up before this game," said Prandelli.

The Italy manager confirmed both Motta and Giorgio Chiellini, who had to be replaced in the first-half, had both suffered hamstring injuries.

Azzurri captain Gianluigi Buffon was magnanimous in defeat.

He told BBC Sport: "There was no contest, they were too superior - so the bitterness at losing this final is only relative.

"It was a great adventure. In a final, you have to win but today we played against a team of incredible quality."

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