Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has claimed Mario Balotelli won the battle of the strikers with Wayne Rooney in Italy’s win over England.
England were dumped out of Euro 2012 on penalties, after the quarter-final with Italy ended goalless.
While Rooney offered little by way of an attacking threat, Balotelli was a constant menace and with some sharper finishing would have got himself on the scoresheet. Balotelli’s profligacy in front of goal, particularly when delaying his shot and allowing John Terry to make a saving tackle, was highlighted but Mancini chose to focus on his striker’s all-round contribution.
"I think perhaps many are underestimating what [Balotelli] did," Mancini told the Corriere dello Sport. "He was at the heart of the game, had five or six chances, and was a bit unlucky not to score.
"If we compare him to Rooney, who we only noticed when it came to penalties, Mario did much better. He's a great striker we must support all the way."
Italy were deserved winners and Mancini felt they were on a different level to England.
"The Azzurri dominated almost the entire match,” he said. "In the second half and in extra time, they crushed England. They took my breath away as I waited for the killer goal. That it did not come was only down to tiny details. Beyond Balotelli I saw a great Italy.”