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The veteran goalkeeper has hailed the AC Milan star's positive attitude and feels he proved himself worthy of the Italy jersey.

Gianluigi Buffon has nothing but praise for Italy teammate Mario Balotelli's performance in Thursday's 2-2 friendly draw against Brazil.

The Azzurri fell two goals behind before the break, but a second-half strike from the 22-year-old Balotelli helped them to a share of the spoils, and the goalkeeper was impressed with the his positive attitude as well as his fine goal.

"Balotelli was superb. I would also have said that if he hadn't scored the equalizer," Buffon told reporters. "The way he sacrificed himself for the team and worked very hard was a great thing to see.

"For me, Balotelli has shown that he deserves the respect of his teammates with this performance. He showed that he has the attitude needed for the national team."

Italy now turns its focus to Tuesday's World Cup qualifier at Malta. The Azzurri currently top their qualifying group with 10 points from four games, while Malta has yet to record a point in three matches.

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