FORTALEZA, Brazil -- Mario Balotelli was sent home from the Confederations Cup on Monday due to a strained thigh, leaving Italy without its top striker for both the semifinal vs. Spain and the final or third-place match. Having already been ruled out of Thursdays semifinal, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli decided to send Balotelli home after consulting with team physician Enrico Castellacci. "I feel like a loser leaving this way. I would have liked to stay but theres the Champions League preliminary round so Ive got to take care of myself," Balotelli said upon leaving the team hotel, referring to matches in August with AC Milan. "Anyhow my teammates will do well even without me." Balotelli injured his left quadriceps during Italys 4-2 loss to Brazil on Saturday. He has been the Azzurris most explosive player in the tournament so far, scoring the winner in a 2-1 victory over Mexico, converting a penalty in the 4-3 win over Japan and setting up a goal for Emanuele Giaccherini against Brazil. "Hes obviously very upset but theres just not enough time for him to return," Prandelli said, adding that the decision was made without any pressure from Milan. "We just used good sense." Castellacci said that Milans medical staff will take over treatment. "I checked out Balotelli this morning and, considering his condition, I dont think he will be able to recuperate before the final," Castellacci said. "Its not worth taking more risks." Balotelli is the second Italy player sent home since the Brazil match, with fullback Ignazio Abate -- who also plays for Milan -- having left Sunday with a dislocated right shoulder. Meanwhile, midfielder Andrea Pirlo, who sat out Saturdays match with Brazil due to a muscle problem, continued to train separately from the rest of the squad. "Pirlo continues to work out and were optimistic but we need to evaluate him day by day and we wont decide whether he can play until the last minute," Castellacci said. In a bit of positive news, midfielder Riccardo Montolivo has fully recuperated from a knock to the head and trained regularly Monday. Alberto Gilardino would seem to be Balotellis logical replacement if Prandelli sticks with his single-striker lineup. Or he could use several forwards such as Emanuele Giaccherini, Stephan El Shaarawy, Sebastian Giovinco, Alessio Cerci or Alessandro Diamanti. "Without Mario well have to work much more collectively so well work more on that," Prandelli said. "We have a few problems but the squad is responding well despite the difficulties." 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The victory is Garcias first this year with his last win coming at the Johor Open, an Asian Tour event in Malaysia last December. CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Al Jefferson and the Charlotte Bobcats cant help but sneak a peek at the Eastern Conference standings every now and again. "I would be great to get in that sixth spot," Jefferson said. The reasoning if obvious: It would help the Bobcats avoid a potential first-round playoff series with Indiana or Miami. For now, the Bobcats are the seventh seed in the East, but theyre gaining ground. Charlotte took a big step on Wednesday night with Jefferson scoring 35 points and Kemba Walker adding a double-double in a 116-111 overtime victory over the Brooklyn Nets. The win pulled the Bobcats within 1/2 games of sixth-seeded Washington, which lost Wednesday night to Phoenix, and three games behind the fifth-seeded Nets. "I think if we continue to win games everything will take care of itself, everything will work out," Jefferson said. "At this point we should be happy and blessed to be in any (playoff) spot." Walker had 20 points and 12 assists, and Chris Douglas-Roberts added 16 points, including two big jump shots in overtime. Deron Williams finished with 29 points for Brooklyn after scoring 18 in the first quarter. Joe Johnson had 18. Josh McRoberts put the Bobcats ahead for good in overtime when he cut to the basket, received a pass from Jefferson and twisted his body in midair for a reverse dunk in traffic, bringing the crowd to its feet. Douglas-Roberts and Johnson traded 3-pointers before Walker hit a 19-footer over Williams to push the lead to 114-111. Shaun Livingston missed a driving layup with 35 seconds left and the Bobcats got the ball. McRoberts was blocked on the ensuing possession, but Douglas-Roberts tracked down the loose ball and made a 20-footer from the left wing to push the lead to five and seal the victory. "I thought the defence was great, but in the end, we come up with a blocked shot, the ball bounces, and you know CDR, he makes a shot with the shot clock winding down and so everybody executed," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "The ball just bounced their way tonight." Williams tied the game with 26.8 seconds left in regulation when he knocked down a 20-footer from the left wing. The Bobcats had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but the ball slipped out of Walkers hands as time expired.dddddddddddd Douglas-Roberts joined the Bobcats in December from the NBA Developmental League and has been a reliable contributor during the teams playoff push. He saw extra minutes off the bench with Gary Neal out with an ankle injury. "Im very confident when Im on the floor and I go in there knowing I have to contribute for this team," Douglas-Roberts said. Williams set a career-high with 57 points in this same building against the Bobcats on March 4, 2012. And early on he looked like he was aiming to better the mark. Despite missing the morning shootaround with an illness, he made seven of his first eight shots, including four 3-pointers to finish with 18 points in the first quarter. The Bobcats, who have surrendered 62 points to Carmelo Anthony and 61 points to LeBron James this season, seemed intent not to allow that to happen again. They shaded their coverage to Williams in the second quarter and he was limited to only two more points before halftime. In the meantime, Jefferson was starting to heat up, scoring 22 points in the first half on 9-of-14 shooting, using a variety of low-post moves and jump hooks. "We gave him some easy ones early," Brooklyns Mason Plumlee said. "... You cant give a great scorer easy buckets early." Brooklyns Jorge Gutierrez was ejected from the game with 6:42 left in the fourth quarter after a flagrant two foul against Cody Zeller. Zeller grabbed an offensive rebound and Gutierrez came down hard with both hands on Zellers shoulders, sending the 7-footer crashing to the hardwood. "I watched the replay and it looked pretty bad -- but that wasnt my intention to do that," Gutierrez said. "Coach always says Nothing easy. Make them earn it on the free throw line. I was just trying to do a hard play." NOTES: The Bobcats are 12-7 since the All-Star break. ... Grammy Award winner Nelly took in the game from a courtside seat. ... The Bobcats and Wells Fargo gave away a new home to former Marine Josh Morgan during the first half of the game as part of the Military Warriors Support Foundation. Morgan was injured in Afghanistan. Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys Cheap Jerseys ' ' '