Italy crashed out of World Cup 2014 in controversial circumstances on Tuesday, with Diego Godin's header giving Uruguay a 1-0 victory to send them through to the knockout stage.
Mario Balotelli was at the heart of the action during his 45 minutes on the pitch, picking up his second booking of the World Cup to give him a one-match ban when the Italians return to action in the Euro 2016 qualifiers.
Squawka Football shared the news:
The Azzurri needed a point or better to progress to the last 16 in their crunch Group D match with Uruguay, but the last thing they needed is Balotelli being, well, Balotelli and picking up a silly caution.
With a head-scratching challenge, the AC Milan star flew through the air while supposedly attempting to play the ball and kneed Alvaro Pereira in the back of the head, as SB Nation's Brian Floyd revealed:
It’s hard to believe that the 23-year-old wasn’t given his marching orders following his aerial assault, and it was evident that he wasn't in the right frame of mind to play after Cesare Prandelli hauled him off at half time.
Fox Sports' Marc Raimondi was one of many left mystified by the challenge:
Did Mario Balotelli just hit a flying knee on a Uruguay player?— Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) June 24, 2014
With Italy momentarily looking like qualifying for the round of 16, Ciro Immobile was gearing up for a start in the Azzurri's next match, but it didn't quite go according to plan.
Immobile scored 22 goals in Serie A for Torino last term, per WhoScored.com, and while he may not be as big a name as Balotelli, he’s certainly just as lethal, but all that's elementary now.
This statistic may not come as a surprise to many, but Balotelli is the only Italian player at the 2014 World Cup to be handed a yellow card so far.
The Italian striker is the kind of player that simply loves the limelight—why else would he be such a mad man? However, he recently said that all he cares about is Italy's success, not his own, per David McDonnell of the Mirror:
"I hope it's not Mario's World Cup, but Italy's. I hope to give a good contribution to the team. I'm not interested in appearing next to major stars. I don't want to be the great star. I want our team to win."
However, after Balotelli was substituted at half time, clearly frustrated, Italy lost their nerve. Claudio Marchisio went one worse than the AC Milan star and was sent off just before the hour mark, leaving Uruguay to ease to their victory.
Balotelli was just 15 years old when Italy won World Cup 2006, and while he's forged himself into a phenomenal player since then, he still has a lot to learn. This latest incident is proof of that.
We've seen the best, the worst and, now, the last of Balotelli in World Cup 2014, but he'll be back in four years' time where he'll no doubt do it all again.
With speculation mounting on the Italian's transfer back to the Premier League, there'll be plenty more