- European Championship Finals
- 18 June 2012, 6:45pm
- Stadion Miejski (Poznan)
|Italy||v||Rep of Ireland|
FULL TIME: Italy's celebrations are on hold while they wait for confirmation that Spain have won - if Croatia grab an equaliser then Italy will be out... AND THERE'S THE NEWS THEY WANTED! Buffon leads Italy's celebrations as the full-time whistle goes in the Spain game. The champs are through, followed by Italy, while Croatia are going home along with the Republic.
90+2 mins: Free-kick to the Republic on the far side but Buffon takes the catch and bowls it out setting up a break. Dunne's virtually on his own with three bearing down on him but Balotelli rattles his shot wide.
90 mins: BALOTELLI DOUBLES THE LEAD! Superb scissor-kick from a corner! Spain are still topping the group though! There's three minutes added on.
89 mins: ANDREWS SENT OFF! It's his second yellow for reacting as a decision goes against him, and he follows it up by booting the ball away as he's ushered off by the Republic's backroom staff!
87 mins: Goalflash from the other game - Navas has fired Spain in front against Croatia. Spain looking like the group-toppers then.
86 mins: Keane bows out, Cox coming on.
84 mins: Balotelli buys the cheapest free-kick you'll ever see, St Ledger being booked for a swipe earlier in the move. It's 22 yards out, a few yards off to the right and straight into the wall by Marchisio, before Bonucci blazes the loose ball into the stand.
82 mins: Now that IS frustrating. The Republic break, Walters plays in Keane down the left of the box but he takes a heavy touch and honks a last-ditch cross straight out.
80 mins: Italy are getting frustrated. They've bossed huge periods of the game but they've only got one goal to their name.
77 mins: The Republic go close! Walters is barged over by Diamanti 25 yards out, a fraction off to the left. There's a meeting for the Republic over the ball, Duff tees up Andrews who rockets a humdinger on goal but Buffon beats it away brilliantly! Great shot, matched by the save.
75 mins: Another Republic sub, Walters on for Doyle.
74 mins: Boos for Balotelli (err... why?) as he comes on for Di Natale.
73 mins: Buffon's booked for marching 30 yards to question a decision by the ref.
72 mins: Duff sends this free-kick to the back stick, Dunne heads back across goal but there's nobody on the end of it.
71 mins: De Rossi takes one for the team as Doyle hares towards the box - that booking won't count if Italy reach the last eight. The free-kick's cleared and the Republic are lucky to win another free-kick through Duff who goes over as Italy break.
69 mins: Italy win a free-kick 22 yards out, off to the left. Nobody's taking this away from Pirlo, but after an age of pointing and moaning about the distance of the wall, he curls it over the bar.
67 mins: Diamanti gets past O'Shea and has a crack but it's an easy stop for Given who hardly has to move.
65 mins: Sub for Ireland now as McGeady makes way for Long to huge cheers. Duff sends in a corner, Ward nearly gets on the end of it, there are appeals for... well, I'm not sure what, but they're waved away by the Turkish ref.
62 mins: Pirlo's free-kick to the back post is out for a goal-kick. Change for Italy as Cassano makes way for former West Ham man Diamanti. Let's hope the stadium's hairdryers are up to his exacting standards.
60 mins: Doyle's lay-off sets up Andrews 20 yards out but he rattles his shot straight at Buffon!
57 mins: Chiellini's down injured after stretching to clear a ball with Doyle, and eventually has to make way for Bonucci.
56 mins: Given's well placed to stop an effort from Di Natale at his near post after the Italian breaks into the left of the Republic box. Silky move.
53 mins: Corner to Ireland on the far side, Dunne meets it on the edge of the six-yard box but directs it wide past a relieved Buffon.
50 mins: Space opens up for De Rossi to shoot thanks to Cassano's run, his effort's a mile off but Italy are hammering on the door once more.
Nicc, Edinburgh: "Italy i predict r thru and spain will beat croatia 2-1.FORZA GLI AZZURI (Come on the blues in italian)"
46 mins: One thing I've learnt tonight is that during half time you can't drive from our office to KFC to buy three Popcorn Chickens and back if all the lights are on red. My colleague Mark informs me: "The number 11 for Italy came close, and Italy then had a corner which come to nothing." And I forgot the BBQ dip too!
HALF TIME: There's no time added on so the whistle goes bang on 45. Ireland were full of running but Cassano's header has taken the wind out of their sails. As it stands Italy are going through as group winners, joined by Spain.
43 mins: Corner to Italy but it's headed clear at the near post. Ireland break and Chiellini cynically fouls Doyle in midfield to stop play - no booking. Scandalous.
41 mins: O'Shea blocks well from Di Natale on the edge of the box. A telling stat from the Beeb - passes completed Italy 286, Ireland 83.
38 mins: Couple of quickfire bookings for the Republic - O'Shea and Andrews. As it stands Italy are going through as group winners (5pts) followed by Spain, with Croatia going home with Ireland.
36 mins: CASSANO GIVES ITALY THE LEAD! Given spills a shot to give away an unnecessary corner, the keeper then gets a hand to Cassano's header from the dead ball, Duff clears but the ball crossed the line!
35 mins: Given hares to the right of his box looking to thwart Di Natale, slides in and the Italian could have gone down but gets a shot in but it's cleared off the line!
33 mins: St Ledger robs the tricky Di Natale in the box just as he's about to pull the trigger and honks clear. The momentum is with Italy once more, but they're there for the taking on the break if the Republic can keep their heads going forward.
31 mins: Stupendous run by Blazaretti down the left, he cuts it back from the line and there's huge handball appeals as Di Natale's shot clocks St Ledger on the arm! Nothing doing - hit him in the chest.
28 mins: Cassano squares to Di Natale but Dunne blocks the shot from 20 yards! Balzaretti then hauls down McGeady for the first yellow of the game.
26 mins: Duff's hauled down on the left by Marchisio, he picks himself up to send in the free-kick but as St Ledger gets his head to it in the box the whistle goes for climbing.
24 mins: Ireland break four-on-three but McGeady fails to pick out a man on the edge of the box! Ireland win a corner thgouh which is eventually played in by Duff but St Ledger can't direct his header on target.
22 mins: McGeady puts in a cross from the flag for Doyle but he's just squeezed out at the last in the six-yard box!
20 mins: Chiellini and Doyle clash heads going for a high ball, it's Ireland's free-kick and Duff bends it into the box but the whistle goes for a shirt-pull by Dunne.
18 mins: Italy play a short corner on the near side, it's worked across to Balzaretti but his effort from 25 yards is emphatically off target.
15 mins: Doyle slides in on Pirlo to win the ball and set up a break. Keane picks out McGeady who in turn finds Doyle, but with Pirlo still down the ref asks the Republic to put the ball out amid boos. Was it a head injury? NO. Did Pirlo kick Doyle's standing leg and go down like the proverbial? YES.
13 mins: De Rossi looks to pick out Di Natale in the box but it's all the way through to Given. Italy are pinning the Republic back but Given's not had to make a save yet.
11 mins: Di Natale's long ball finds Cassano, he gets away from St Ledger down the right and crosses before O'Shea heads behind for a corner. Dunne heads it behind for another, which is smashed away by McGeady.
9 mins: Fine header clear by Andrews from another Italy corner, this time from the far side. Ireland aren't seeing much of the ball at the mo.
6 mins: The Fields of Athenry booms out at Pirlo delivers a corner to Italy from the near side, Ireland fail to get it away first time and Motta has a half chance but St Ledger does eventually hoof clear.
3 mins: Duff wins a free-kick off Balzaretti, the skipper swings it in left-footed, Doyle's header hits a defender and Andrews' follow-up is blocked! What a cracking start we've had, much better by Trap's men compared to the first two games too.
2 mins: Di Natale plays a lovely crossfield ball for De Rossi who meets it on the volley but thrashes it wide!
1 min: Great opening for Doyle in the opening minute! Pirlo gives it away in midfield and Doyle charges straight through the middle but he's crowded out inthe box before he can shoot!
0 mins: 100-cap skipper Duff wins the coin toss and says "we'll stay where we are", before turning away and nearly forgetting to shake the officials' hands! Italy get us under way playing left to right in blue shirts and white shorts, Ireland in white shirts and green shorts.
Sean, Belfast: "Are you serious? The Italian national anthem is the best ever written? You're a joker!!"
1940: Anthems time. If you were in any doubt that the Ireland fans are outnumbering the Italians, you won't be after hearing that. WOW. Italy's is still the best anthem ever written though (sorry!) and when Buffon hangs up his gloves there's a job for him as a tenor.
1902: Evening all, and welcome to Orange's live commentary on the clash between Italy and Republic of Ireland as Group C reaches its climax. Italy make four changes to the side which drew 1-1 with Croatia, defenders Federico Balzaretti, Andrea Barzagli, and Ignazio Abate coming into the side with striker Antonio Di Natale, with Mario Balotelli, Leonardo Bonucci, Christian Maggio and Emanuele Giaccherini making way. Giovanni Trapattoni makes just one change, striker Kevin Doyle replacing Simon Cox, while Damien Duff takes the captain's armband from Robbie Keane as the winger making his 100th appearance for the Republic. In terms of the Group C permutations, Spain face Croatia with the winners guaranteed top spot. Spain only need a draw to reach the quarter-finals, while a 2-2 or higher-scoring draw will see both teams go through. If Croatia lose, or draw 0-0, and Italy beat Republic of Ireland, the Azzurri will advance at the expense of the Croats. In the case of a 1-1 draw, Croatia will only make the knockout stages if Italy do not beat Republic by 3-1 or better. The Irish are already out. I'll bring you live commentary from 1945, in the mean time use the box on the right to send in your predictions and any bets you've got on. After a temporary leave of sanity I've put two quid on a Republic HT Italy FT, Croatia HT Spain FT double at 700-1 - if it comes in I'll buy you all a pint.
- European Championship Finals
- 18 June 2012, 6:45pm
- Stadion Miejski (Poznan)
|Italy||v||Rep of Ireland|
Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli sent Italy into the Euro 2012 quarter-finals as Group C runners-up with a 2-0 win over Republic of Ireland.
The AC Milan striker headed home from Andrea Pirlo's 35th-minute corner before substitute Balotelli added a second at the death to finally kill off Ireland's brave resistance in Poznan.
Spain's 1-0 win over Croatia in Gdansk meant the reigning champions topped Group C, but Italy went through in second place.
On a night when only victory would do for Cesare Prandelli's men, they came up with the goods against an Ireland side whose exit from the competition was confirmed last week.
But while Italy dominated for long periods, they were unable to find a way past the green shirts for a second time to leave the Republic, led by winger Damien Duff on his 100th appearance for his country, in with a chance until Balotelli eventually calmed the nerves.
Giovanni Trapattoni's side, who had midfielder Keith Andrews sent off late on, staged a late blitz on the Italian goal which came up only just short, and although they restored some of their battered pride, they will return to Dublin tomorrow having failed to collect a single point.
Duff and his team-mates ran out wearing black armbands to mark the 18th anniversary of the shootings of six men in Loughinisland, County Down, as the victims watched the national team play Italy at the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States.
That day, Ray Houghton's goal secured a famous victory over the Italians, and the latest generation set out in determined fashion in an attempt to repeat the feat.
They might have taken the lead straight from the kick-off when Kevin Doyle ran on to Pirlo's careless pass, but defender Giorgio Chiellini dispossessed him before he could shoot.
Ireland safely negotiated the opening five minutes which had previously proved so problematical in the tournament, but as the deep-sitting Pirlo started to pull the strings, found themselves having to defend for dear life.
But where that had been beyond them in their opening two games, this time they found the resilience and organisation which had brought them to the finals.
The two sides traded blows in their own particular fashions, the Italians stylish and patient, the Irish more direct and abrasive, but with neither goalkeeper being called upon at all.
Richard Dunne and Sean St Ledger both had to get in good blocks to prevent Antonio Di Natale from troubling Shay Given, and the Leicester defender had to be on his toes to dispossess the same man as he threatened to carve his way into the penalty area once again.
But with 10 minutes of the first half remaining, Italy started to turn the screw.
Glenn Whelan's misplaced pass allowed Cassano to pick out Di Natale and when he rounded Given on the right side of the penalty area and shot from a tight angle, St Ledger once again came to the rescue on the line.
But the reprieve was only temporary and after Given had conceded a corner by spilling Cassano's snapshot, Prandelli's men edged ahead.
Pirlo's near-post delivery was met with a glancing header by Cassano and although Given got a hand to it, he could not keep the ball out of the net.
The sense of relief among the Italian fans, who were dwarfed in number by their Irish counterparts, was palpable, and will have been shared both on the pitch and the bench.
However, Prandelli's players returned knowing they still had to get through another 45 minutes and hope things elsewhere continued to go for them if they were to progress.
It would have been 2-0 within three minutes of the restart had St Ledger not once again denied Di Natale with a vital block, and Given had to get down well to keep out Cassano's side-footed effort seconds later with Italy looking to kill the game off.
Daniele De Rossi curled a 51st-minute shot over the angle of bar and post with Ireland looking more open than they had at any point until then.
But there was a flicker of hope for the Republic when Robbie Keane forced Ignazio Abate to concede a corner which Dunne headed wide.
Given had to repel another Di Natale effort at his near post with 55 minutes gone, but Andrews tested Gianluigi Buffon from distance for the first time on the hour.
Sensing that their time had come, the Republic launched a sustained assault on the Italian goal, prompting Prandelli to introduce wild card striker Balotelli with 15 minutes left on the clock.
But Buffon had to be at his best to keep out Andrews' drilled 79th-minute shot from Duff's back-heeled free-kick, with Ireland throwing everything they had at Italy.
However, it all turned sour at the death as Andrews, who had earlier been booked for a foul, received a second yellow card for dissent seconds before Balotelli hooked home a Pirlo corner to secure the win.