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Mancini: Balotelli's time has come

The former Azzurri star has claimed that not only did he know that the enigmatic striker would eventually prove his worth, but also that he would score twice against the Germans

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has heaped praise on Mario Balotelli after his charge's stunning double in Italy's 2-1 Euro 2012 semifinal success over Germany on Thursday.

Balotelli has long been considered an enfant terrible because of his propensity for getting into trouble on and off the field. However, Mancini, who coached the striker at Inter and then signed him for City, never lost hope that the 21-year-old would grow up and realize his potential.

"I'm really happy for him," the Italian coach told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "An adjective? Extraordinary. It's the moment that he can pass from being a good player to a great player.

"And against Spain in the final, I expect that he will carry the team. The moment of his consecration has arrived."

Mancini also claimed that he knew Balotelli would net a double against Germany, though he was disappointed that the forward removed his shirt after his second strike, thus earning himself a booking.

"I was sure that Mario would score two goals; I felt it," the former Azzurri international stated. "I thought it was his night and that he would make a difference.

"What did I think after the second goal? That he would have been able to score another. But it was a shame that he took off his shirt. He should not have gotten himself booked."

Italy will now face Spain in the tournament decider in Kiev on Sunday, with the game set to kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET.

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