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Played
June 18, 2012 7:45 PM BST
INEA stadion — Poznań
Referee:‬ C. Çakιr‎
Attendance:‬ 38794‎
 
 
 
Top of the Match
Antonio Cassano
Antonio Cassano
Italy
Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli
Italy
Flop of the Match
Keith Andrews
Keith Andrews
Republic of Ireland
Keith Andrews
Keith Andrews
Republic of Ireland

Italy 2-0 Ireland: Cassano & Balotelli seal qualification

Cesare Prandelli's men put in a professional performance to earn a two-goal victory against the Irish and will now face the winners of Group D in the knockout stages

By Martin Macdonald

Italy have qualified for the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 as Group C runners-up thanks to a narrow 2-0 victory over Republic of Ireland in Poznan on Monday evening.

Cesare Prandelli's men were on top for the majority of the first half, and a header from Antonio Cassano  minutes before half-time gave the Azzurri a lead to hold on to. Mario Balotelli then stepped up to seal the victory moments before the final whistle with a typically dramatic finish from just outside the six-yard box.

Italy came extremely close to taking the lead on the half-hour mark when Federico Balzaretti went on a marauding run down the left-hand side and reversed a pass into the area for Antonio Di Natale. The Udinese forward then swivelled sharply and hooked a strike at goal, but Sean St Ledger was on hand to make a brave block with his chest from six yards.

MATCH FACTS: Italy 2-0 Ireland

 Shots
 On Target
 Possession
 Total Passes
 Bookings
 Red cards
ITALY
26
7
67.2%
505
3
0
IRELAND
9
2
32.8%
228
2
1

This was a period of real dominance for Prandelli's side, and they nearly took the lead again moments later when Di Natale took the ball beyond Shay Given and attempted to twist a shot over the line from a tight angle, but Richard Dunne sprinted back to make a terrific clearance from underneath the crossbar.

Ireland failed to weather the storm, however, and went behind in the 38th minute thanks to a headed goal from Cassano. Andrea Pirlo whipped in a dangerous cross to the near post from a corner kick and his former Milan team-mate bulleted a header at goal that just squeezed over the line, with Given and Damien Duff's attempts to clear proving futile.

The Azzurri came bursting out of the blocks after the break, and should have doubled their lead just four minutes into the half when Balzaretti again showed impressive skill down the left to cut a pass back into the danger area, but Cassano's eventual strike at goal from 10 yards lacked conviction, and Dunne managed to clear the ball up the pitch.

The introduction of Shane Long midway through the second half gave Ireland the kick that they needed to up the tempo of their play, with the strength and movement of the West Brom striker causing real problems for the nervy Italian defence.

A succession of corner kicks in a five-minute period from Trapattoni's men had the Azzurri looking shaky, but their best chance in this period of dominance came when Keith Andrews powered a strike at goal from long range, but Buffon was equal to it and managed to palm the ball to safety.

It all unravelled for Ireland towards the end of the match. In the space of a couple of minutes, Andrews was given a second yellow card for kicking the ball away in frustration, and then substitute Balotelli stepped up to score Italy's second goal with a fantastic bicycle kick from just outside the six-yard box.

This victory sees Italy move on to the quarter-finals of Euro 2012, where they will face the winners of Group D. Republic of Ireland, meanwhile, are heading home from Poland and Ukraine without having registered a point in the group.



Italy

1
Gianluigi Buffon
Goalkeeper
73′
2.50
3
2.50
42
2.00
20
Ignazio Abate
Defender
2.50
15
Andrea Barzagli
Defender
2.50
8
Thiago Motta
Midfielder
2.00
8
Claudio Marchisio
Midfielder
2.00
16
Daniele De Rossi
Midfielder
71′
2.50
21
Andrea Pirlo
Midfielder
35′
3.00
99
3.50
10
3.00

Republic of Ireland

1.50
31
Shay Given
Goalkeeper
3.00
12
1.50
11
1.50
16
John O'Shea
Defender
39′
2.00
5
1.50
6
Glenn Whelan
Midfielder
2.50
7
Aiden McGeady
Midfielder
65′
1.00
17
Keith Andrews
Midfielder
37′ 89′
2.50
16
Damien Duff
Midfielder
3.00
29
2.00
7

Substitutes

30
 - 
26
 - 
5
 - 
19
2.50
11
 - 
23
 - 
18
 - 
-
 - 
45
3.00
31
 - 
12
 - 
-
2.00

Substitutes

 - 
20
 - 
1
David Forde
Goalkeeper
 - 
2
 - 
15
 - 
48
 - 
4
Darron Gibson
Midfielder
 - 
18
Stephen Hunt
Midfielder
 - 
4
Paul Green
Midfielder
 - 
-
James McClean
Midfielder
 - 
19
2.00
21
Shane Long
Striker
65′
 - 
-
Simon Cox
Striker
86′

Coach/Manager

-
 - 

Coach/Manager

 - 
-
 
  • Goal
  • Own Goal
  • Penalty
  • Penalty Missed
  • Yellow Card
  • Assist
  • Penalty Save
  • Penalty Shootout Goal
  • Penalty Shootout Miss
  • Yellow Card / Red Card
  • Red Card
  • Substitution IN
  • Substitution OUT
  • Injury
  • Goal.com Rating
  • Goal.com Man of the Match
  • Goal.com Flop of the Match
  • Top & Flop Global Ranking
  • Fans' Man of the Match
  • Fans' Flop of the Match
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