Balotelli 'should accept defeat'
Mario Balotelli should accept Italy were beaten by a better side in Sunday night's Euro 2012 final according to the striker's coach Cesare Prandelli.
Although, Balotelli returned to collect his medal in the Olympic Stadium following the Azzurri's 4-0 hammering by Spain, the 21-year-old was clearly upset at how the evening had unfolded.
Initially, the Manchester City man stormed straight down the tunnel at the final whistle, and angrily shrugged off the attempts of Italian officials to stop him.
He refused to speak with reporters as he made his way out of the stadium, at the end of a thoroughly miserable night.
"There are times when you have to hold your hands up accept defeat," said Prandelli.
"Sometimes you must say your opponent was better than you."
The Azzurri conceded twice in each half as they were overpowered by the defending champions.
It condemned them to suffer the heaviest defeat in a final and left Balotelli shattered after he had gone into the game with such high hopes of securing the prestigious Golden Boot prize.
"I told Mario that these are experiences you have to deal with and have to accept," said Prandelli.
"But you also have to make sure this helps you going forward and you can grow from the experience.
"This has happened to a number of players, and will happen again, but this is what sport is all about."
Strangely, Italy enjoyed the majority of possession in the first half but still found themselves two goals down through David Silva and Jordi Alba.
However, an injury to their final substitute, Thiago Motta, within four minutes of his introduction, forced Italy to complete the final half-hour with 10 men.
And, in their third game in a week, which included that draining period of extra-time against England, it was too much.
"We've had a terrific European Championship and the only regret is the fact we didn't have a few extra days to rest up before this game,'' said Prandelli.
The Italy manager confirmed both Motta and Giorgio Chiellini, who had to be replaced in the first half, had suffered hamstring injuries.
He also sought to allay fears he might seek a return to the club game this summer after impressing during his two-year stint with the national side.
"There were times when I wasn't entirely sure but I've never had any problems with the Italian Football Federation," said Prandelli.
"This project needs to continue. We need to keep going with it, because this team must grow."