RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, June 17- Italy coach Cesare Prandelli tore a strip off tearaway striker Mario Balotelli despite the controversial star grabbing the winner in the 2-1 Confederations Cup victory over Mexico at the Maracana.
Balotelli sealed the win 12 minutes from time with a fine, muscular finish, but Prandelli was furious after the Milan striker was booked for stripping off his shirt in celebration.
“Mario needs to stop taking his shirt off after scoring a goal. Picking up silly bookings is not a good idea in a tournament as difficult as this one,” said Prandelli, having already castigated Balotelli for his sending off in the recent World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic.
But as regards the performance, sparked by a sumptuous opening free-kick goal from evergreen cap centurion Andrea Pirlo, Prandelli pronounced himself satisfied with the Italians having shrugged off a limp warm-up draw against Haiti.
“It was a very tactical match but we dominated it for the most part. Mexico were trying to get into it on the counter-attack when we made mistakes. But we stopped them from finding their game and dictating the place. That’s what we tried to do and we managed it,” said Prandelli.
“Mexico came up against a very solid Italian team.”
Italy now head for Recife in the north to meet a Japan side beaten by Brazil in their opening game and coached by fellow Italian Alberto Zaccheroni as they look to keep pace with the Brazilians before their final pool showdown.
“He (Zaccheroni) knows us well and how we do things,” said Prandelli. “I know Alberto and we will have to be alert to anything. We are already concentrating on that next match.”
Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre said Italy had to thank their “individual” moments of brilliance for their win.
“That was what made the difference,” said de la Torre in noting the majestic showing and free-kick finish of Pirlo.
“We came up against a very well-organised team with very good players, but it was their individual brilliance which proved the difference between us.
“We have a few things we need to work on and now we will focus on the next match against Brazil,” in Fortaleza, de la Torre concluded.