Balotelli outshone Rooney, says Manchester City boss Mancini
Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini says Mario Balotelli was more impressive than Wayne Rooney in Italy’s win over England
Roberto Mancini believes Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli outshone Wayne Rooney as Italy beat England on penalties to reach the Euro 2012 semi-finals.
After a goalless 120 minutes largely dominated by the Italians, missed spot-kicks from Ashley Young and Ashley Cole eventually proved the difference as Alessandro Diamanti slotted home the winning penalty to set up a clash with Germany.
Balotelli impressed facing his Manchester City team-mates Joleon Lescott and Joe Hart, and the 21-year-old tested England’s goalkeeper on five occasions as he threatened to give Italy the lead in normal time.
At the other end, Manchester United talisman Rooney lacked match sharpness and failed to guide a single attempt on target.
“I think perhaps many are underestimating what [Balotelli] did,” Mancini told 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.”
Mancini insisted Italy were worthy winners and was particularly impressed by the second half and extra-time performance of Cesare Prandelli’s side as England struggled to get out of their own half.
“The Azzurri dominated almost the entire match,” he added. “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.”