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 Euro 2012.
“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.”