Goal of the day: Mario Balotelli (Italy) vs Ireland | inside World Soccer

Mario Balotelli served up a late moment of magic to seal Italy's place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 with a sublime overhead kick.

Italy forward Mario Balotelli scores against Republic of Ireland with an acrobatic volley
Italy forward Mario Balotelli scores against Republic of Ireland with an acrobatic volley

Photo: Getty Images

Playing against Republic of Ireland in Poznań, Cesare Prandelli's men were on top for the majority of the first half, and a header from Antonio Cassano 10 minutes before half-time gave the Azzurri a lead to hold on to for a long period of time.

A disappointing night for Ireland was made worse when Keith Andrews was sent off for a second bookable offense in the final minutes.

Moments later, Italy made the game with an absolutely amazing goal from Balotelli.

John O'Shea was tight on him, pushing into his back and holding his shirt — but it was not enough to stop Super Mario.

Falling over and with his back to goal, Balotelli executed a superb volley that left Irish goalkeeper Shay Given with absolutely no chance.

As is his style, the fiery striker did not celebrate, but appeared to be ready to say something until quick-thinking teammate Leonardo Bonucci clasped a hand over his mouth.

It's believed Balotelli was sending a message to the Irish fans who jeered heavily when he stepped on to the pitch.

"He said something in English, so I"ve no idea what it was!" said Bonucci.

"Unfortunately, Mario is very instinctive and that is also his strength. Without that personality he wouldn't have scored such a great goal."



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