Mario Balotelli and his brilliant brace help Italy record 2-0 victory over Malta
Italy striker Mario Balotelli continued his hot streak in front of the goal with a brilliant brace against Malta in the World Cup qualifier at Ta’Qali National Stadium on Tuesday night. Coach Cesare Prandelli lauded the AC Milan striker after the 2-0 victory over Malta.
The brace against Italy has taken Mario Balotelli’s tally to 10 goal in nine games for club and country since moving to AC Milan during the January transfer window. Mario Balotelli’s match-winning performance against Malta leaves Italy three points clear on top of their group, which means the Azzurri are destined for an automatic qualification.
“He just needs to get used to that kind of thing,” Cesare Prandelli told FIGC.it. “He has to stay strong and keep his cool when people are trying to wind him up, like he did tonight.”
Soon after Mario Balotelli’s second goal Malta were given the perfect opportunity to put one back. Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon fouled Andre Schembri in the box allowing Michael Mifsud to take the spot-kick. The Juventus shot-stopper saved the shot in the end proving he was still one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
“He did that at the perfect moment - like a captain should,” Cesare Prandelli said of Gianluigi Buffon. “We knew they wouldn't give us any space. We were too slow in building up moves and we had difficulty going forward even though we kept possession.
“There was a lack of intensity in the final third. There was far too much distance between the backline and the midfield. It seems absurd to say this but the strong wind here influenced our passing too.
“Nevertheless it was important that we won. I've seen two good outings with the great performance against Brazil and then these three points.”
In other news, Morgan De Sanctis announced his retirement from international football at the end of the game. The Napoli shot-stopper, who made his debut for Italy against Iceland in 2005, has managed grab only 6 caps for the Azzuri.
“The time has come for me to leave room for the newcomers,” Morgan De Sanctis said. “It's not going to be easy to leave this group, though, because it's full of great guys. Let's hope they go one step further than we did at the Euros.
“Behind Gigi (Buffon) there are (Salvatore) Sirigu, (Federico) Marchetti and other good goalkeepers who will have to wait a few more years, so we are in good hands. I told the guys my decision this morning and I talked to the coach last night. At 36 I've got a few shots left to take with my club.”