Ireland were left deflated after an opening defeat to Croatia which has made an already uphill struggle a vertical climb up a smooth rock face with no ropes. Still, it ain’t over until it’s over and a positive result tonight against defending champions Spain tonight in Gdansk and the dream will live on.
Croatia will be on a high as they top the group but they may find things a little tougher against the more defensively capable Italians in Poznan. Will anything be decided after tonight? Can Trapattoni get the performance he needs from his players?
Follow along as we take you through both games with a little commentary, some stolen stats and whatever else we can think of. Join in by commenting below or get involved on Twitter.
Earlier: Italy 1 – 1 Croatia
Final Score: Ireland 0-4 Spain
There can be no complaints about the size of the defeat tonight, or the fact that Ireland are out of the tournament with a game to go. Spain looked magnificent and are warming up nicely whilst Trapattoni will have a lot of justifying to do over his team selection and his tactics. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear though. However the lack of fight in the players was noticeable and worrying. Will Trap survive a tournament like this? All’s left now is to ruin things for Italy.
Good night and good luck.
21.34: Full-Time: The final whistle blows on the game and Ireland’s slim hopes of progressing. Spain were just too good and Ireland were never in the game.
21.30: At least the Ireland fans can compete. A rousing rendition of the Fields of Athenry can be heard. We definitely have the better fans anyway.
21.28: From Ciaran O Raghallaigh in the Press box: “I can *just about* handle Torres backheeling with contempt. But Pique. Seriously, f**ck off.”
Hard words from Ciaran but understandable
21.23: Goal!! Fabregas takes advantage of more slack defending from a corner. A great strike but the Ireland players switched off in the box. Did someone say whipping boys?
21.21: Iniesta gave a masterclass tonight. He goes off for Cazorla. The clubless Paul Green gets a run out for Ireland, replacing Glenn Whelan.
21.19: Spain have a free kick on the edge of Ireland’s box after McGeady clips Silva’s heel. Xavi puts it over.
21.17: Martinez in the book for a foul on Whelan. A tad harsh. McClean finally makes his Euro 2012 bow now that Ireland are all but out. He replaces Duff.
21.16: Robbie Keane gets a good strike away forcing a quality save from Casillas. A goal would be nice to ease the pain a little.
21.15: Spain are back in complete control. If the heads drop and the legs tire, Ireland could ship a few more here. Torres goes off…Fabregas comes on.
21.11: Goal!! Torres through on goal and slots it past Given. No way back now and there can be few complaints. Too many mistakes from Ireland, which you can’t afford to do against a team as good as Spain.
21.10: Ireland enjoying some possession now. Can they make something happen as Spain ease off a little?
21.07: Ireland having a little more success going forward. McGeady gets a cross in which is cleared for a corner. St Ledger commits a foul and the chance is gone.
21.05: Ireland get the ball in the Spanish box. Andrews has a chance on his left but opts to pass back to a Spanish defender. Alonso is replaced by Javi Martinez.
21.03: The ball pings around dangerously in the Ireland box, thankfully Busquets has the final shot and Given is untested.
20.59: Below is Ciaran O’Raghallaigh’s obstructed view from the press box in the stadium. “Obstructed view from commentary box thanks to some Spanish TV guys. I keep asking them to stand up, but they won’t.”
20.58: No seems to be the answer as Spain refuse to let Ireland have the ball. Which isn’t very nice of them.
20.56: Given makes a world class stop from Xavi as Spain look certain to score again. Could this be the turning point?
20.55: Alonso picks up a yellow after being tricked by Walters. Yes I do have that the right way around.
20.51: A well timed goal for Spain and yet another poorly timed goal for Ireland but there was no bad luck to blame, just bad defending. No point holding back now.
20.50: Goal! Silva puts Spain 2-0 up after Dunne gives the ball away at the back.
20.49: More of the same at the start of the second-half. Arbeloa finds some space and gets a shot on target. Given saves.
Half-Time: Spain look every bit the defending champions here. Ireland have been chasing little Spanish shadows for most of this game. Still, there’s only one goal in it. Who knows what the second half brings.
20.32: Glenn Whelan is booked, the free-kick ends up at the feet of Iniesta. Who forces a good save from Given
20.30: From Ciaran O Raghallaigh in the Press box: “If possession is 9/10ths of the law. Ireland have .0001/10ths of the law.”
20.28: Last ditch defending as Spain ping shots at goal. Given fists a corner which falls to Alonso, his shot flies a few yards wide.
20.26: Xavi gets a shot in from the edge of the box. The bounce threatens to deceive Given but he takes it comfortably in the end.
20.24: Spain pour forward but Ireland stand strong. Torres in on goal but he makes a mess of it.
20.23: Ireland string five, maybe six, passes together. That’s noteworthy in this game. Still only one goal in it.
20.21: Keane gets there as quick as he can but the tackle on Iniesta is late. Robbie gets a yellow. A bit harsh.
20.20: The ref barges Keith Andrews off the ball leading to a Spanish corner. What happened to the luck of the Irish?
20.18: Keith Andrews does some good covering work but Spain quickly regain possession.
20.16: Ireland just can’t keep hold of the ball on the few occasions they dispossess Spain. Torres gets the ball at his feet in the box but ends up clipping Duff’s heel to concede a free out.
20.14: Ward is having a bit of a shocker. Spain are finding a lot of space down his side of the defence.
20.12: McGeady works a yard and then wastes it with a poor delivery. That’s McGeady. He looks up for this game though.
20.11: A corner comes in and Pique gets a free header. It goes safely past the post but more poor defending from the men in green.
20.09: Some sloppy play at the back by McGeady leads to a Spain corner. They don’t look on the ball tonight, Ireland.
20.04: Ireland firing long balls towards Keane while Spain eager to keep it on the ground. Ireland 70/1 to win 2-1.
20.02: From Ciaran in Gdansk: “This is turning into a training session from my seat in the gods. Nine defenders v 8 attackers. And the attackers got to pick first. It will be a long, long night.”
20.01: Robbie Keane is at 14s to score next if anyone’s feeling optimistic. That’s assuming Ireland can get a touch of the ball in the next 75 minutes.
19.58: Kevin Kilbane has his say on the goal: “Shay Given could have done better there. It went straight through his hands when he should have got himself behind it.”
19.57: 50/1 Ireland. Draw 11/1. 1/25 Spain.
19.56: From Ciaran O Raghallaigh in the Press box: “When Torres scored he put his hand to his ear. Think he was looking for the Spanish fans. Amazing team. Shameful support here.”
19.53: Great long shot from Andrews forces a corner. Ireland not as bad as the start suggests.
19.52: Arbeloa crosses for Torres who shoots just wide of Given’s left-hand post. He’s looking very dangerous.
19.49: GOAL! Spoke too soon. Cursed. Torres scores after Ireland slow to react after Dunne blocked Silva. Disaster. Again.
19.48: Three and a half minutes gone and Ireland have held Spain scoreless. Better start.
19.46: Simon Cox forces a snapshot save from Casillas. Good start.
19.45: 5-4-3-2-1. Kick-off! COME ON YOU BOYS IN GREEN!
19.44: Here’s the view from the Press box in Gdansk. Spain unbeaten in 16 — haven’t scored a lot though.
19.42: National anthem time. My god, the Irish fans sound loud. McGeady still doesn’t know the words though. Or Dunne, who looks like he’s ready to kill. Good man, Dunner. Awesome anthem.
19.41: Just minutes to kick off. Robbie Keane looks focussed against a young looking Spanish side. Oh, wait. They’re just kids
It’s a night for big Cox. Oops. It’s a big night for Cox.
19.32: Roy Keane says Robbie Keane is NOT a great player. “He’s not quite done it at club level,” says Roy on ITV. 1-2-3: Booooooooo!
19.29: Just thinking, a TV pundit centre midfield of Giles (RTE) and Keane (ITV) would be quite tasty.
19.26: VIDEO You’ll Never Beat the Irish is blasted out pre-kick off. (Well, not often).
19.22: Ex-Ireland manager Mick McCarthy on BBC Radio 5 live: “Ireland’s success has been based on a sound defensive strategy, being organised and very hard to break down. The goals that we gave away against Croatia were really very poor. We’ve got to defend better, and if we don’t defend better than that then we’ll get beaten.” He’s dead right of course. Mick knows from his time at Wolves all about dodgy defending.
19.19: Teams are in..
Spain: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Alonso, Silva, Torres, Iniesta. Subs: Valdes, Albiol, Javi Martinez, Juanfran, Pedro, Fabregas, Negredo, Mata, Llorente, Santi Cazorla, Jesus Navas, Reina.
Rep of Ireland: Given, O’Shea, St. Ledger, Dunne, Ward, Duff, Andrews, Whelan, McGeady, Cox, Keane. Subs: Westwood, Doyle, Kelly, McShane, Walters, Gibson, Hunt, O’Dea, Long, Green, McClean, Forde.
Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal)
7.17pm: Kevin Kilbane on BBC Radio 5 live at PGE Arena: “How many times over the years have Ireland had big results against the odds? Think of USA 1994 when they beat Italy at Giants Stadium. I wouldn’t rule out something special happening this evening, because Ireland are capable of doing that.” Love Kilbane. Especially after his Vanilla Ice Rap.
7.08pm: If you placed a pre-match first/last goalscorer or correct score bet on the Italy v Croatia game via your mobile, you’ll be getting money back after the game ended in a score draw.
7.07pm: Whilst the RTE panelists grumble about how football isn’t like it was in their day, here’s some WAG watching. It’s not only Robbie Keane who has a tasted lady in his life. Here’s Shay Given with his lovely wife Jane.
7.00pm: The Ireland fans in Gdansk are in a positive mood ahead of the game. Otherwise known as being drunk.
6.55pm: So the big news Trapattoni was so guarded about is Cox starting for Doyle. Robbie Keane will start up front by himself with Cox playing behind him, dropping back in to the midfield when needed. Which will probably be for 85 of the 90 minutes.
Full-Time: Italy still have work to do after a second draw. Croatia are well poised at the top of the group with 4 points. A draw with Spain in their last game should see them through.
6.51pm: Croatia have a good break late on but Eduardo wastes the opportunity. Kranjcar gets a shot on which Buffon spills but there’s no danger.
6.50pm: Mandzukic looks genuinely injured in fairness. He’s replaced by Kranjcar. Pirlo’s free-kick is rubbish.
6.49pm: A free-kick for Italy in a promising position….Mandzukic holds up the play with an “injury”.
6.44pm: If there’s to be a winner in this game then it looks more likely to be Croatia right now. Cue an Italian goal.
6.41pm: Croatia are pressurising the Italians well. Schildenfeld pressures a little too well and picks up a booking for blocking Giovinco. The free comes to nothing.
6.39pm: Former Arsenal man Eduardo replaces Jelavic. Who was quiet today. Cassano is replaced Giovinco.
6.38pm: Croatia are going for this one. They’re beating Italy in the tackle but Jelavic wastes a good position with a poor pass.
6.31pm: Montolivo hits a swerver from distance. Pletikosa makes a meal of it but palms the ball safely away.
6.27pm: Goal!!! Manzukic scores! The man who tormented Ireland has punished some poor defending from Chiellini. Allowed to take it down in the six yard box and he smashes it in off the post.
6.26pm: Di Natale is now 7/1 to score the 2nd goal.
6.25pm: Pranjic came on for Perisic. The largely anonymous Balotelli is replaced by Di Natale.
6.21pm: Ireland v Spain News!! Fernando Torres starts against Ireland. So Del Bosque decides against using a striker again. Boom!!
6.20pm: The final ball is lacking for both sides in this half. It’s getting very scrappy.
6.18pm: Pirlo strides forward but his good play dies at the feet of Cassano in the Croatian box. Motta is replaced by Montolivo.
6.17pm Balotelli gets the ball 30 years out and cracks a shot a few feet over the bar.
6.15pm: Srna flattens Motta as De Rossi also indulges in some rolling around after making contact with Modric.
6.13pm: We’re seeing more of Croatia on the ball now. They have a tough job breaking down this well organised Italy side.
6.12pm: Webb books Motta for a pre-corner wrestle with Jelavic.
6.11pm: RTE commentator informs us of the danger of flares. They’re not just red hot, they’re white hot! Apparently.
6.10pm: Croatia are now 12/1 to win this game. N Jelavic is 13/2 to score the next goal.
6.09pm: Jelavic takes the ball done in the Italian box. He wins a corner…which leads to nothing.
6.07pm: Cassano gets in on the action with his own shot from distance. Takes a deflection and goes for a corner. Which comes to nothing.
6.05pm: Modric gets another shot away from just outside the Italain box. Well hit but over the bar.
6.02pm: Modric gets himself in to a good shooting position but his shot his weak and Buffon gathers easily.
6.01pm: The second-half kicks off. Can Croatia get themselves back in to this game?
Half-Time: Italy deserve their lead but, despite Pirlo getting the goal, they do lack a little creativity in the midfield. At the back they’ve been pretty solid and as the half wore on Italy looked more in control.
5.45pm: Croatia attack on the break but they don’t make the most of a 3-on-3 situation and Mandzukic hits a harmless enough shot in to Buffon’s hands from a tight angle.
5.42pm: It’s all Italy now as they push for a second before half-time. Cassano gets his head on a corner but he puts it over under pressure from the defender.
5.38pm: Goal!!!! Pirlo curls in free-kick from outside the box. Pletikosa was a little suspect there but a sweet strike from the midfielder.
5.37pm: A brilliant double save by Pletikosa from Marchisio as Italy pour it on.
5.32pm: It’s end-to-end stuff here in this game of two halves. Cliches aside it’s entertaining stuff with both sides pushing forward at every possibility. Cassano should do better as he hooks the ball across the face of goal from a good position.
5.28pm: Balotelli is the 6/1 favourite to score first. Jelavic is 13/2.
5.25pm: Italy have dealt a lot better with this Croatia attack but Ireland’s conquerors are in the ascendancy now.
5.19pm: Almost a penalty!!!! But Webb gives a free out instead. It looks a penalty as Bonucci tugs Jelavic down. Another good cross causes panic in the Italian backline. Croatia are getting in to this.
5.17pm: Good battling from Balotelli wins the Italians a corner. It comes to nought after Thiago Motta handles.
5.14pm: Mario is getting in to some decent positions. He still looks decidedly non-plussed though. As I say that he gets a good strike away from the edge of the box. Straight at the keeper but firmly hit.
5.11pm: Italy looking more comfortable at the back and more dangerous going forward in this game.
5.07pm: A lively start to this game. Croatia won’t enjoy the kind of possession they enjoyed against Ireland though. Expect more counter-attacking from them today.
5.02pm: He may have had a stinker against Spain but Balotelli already looks more dangerous in this game. Takes the ball in the box with his back to goal, spins and gets a good shot away. Zips past the post. Keeper had no chance.
Kick-off: Italy haven’t beaten Croatia in over 60 years. That does include a period of some 50 years when Croatia wasn’t actually a country but still…it’s a stat.
4.56pm: Italy recorded a solid draw with Spain in their first game but there’s little room for error here. A draw won’t put them out but it’ll leave them with work to do against an Ireland side they failed to beat in two World Cup 2012 qualifiers. And were beaten by in a friendly last June.
4.51pm: It’s not just the Spanish who can do beautiful wags. Here’s our very own Claudine Keane. Right, time to focus on the match.
4.47pm: Will Italy struggle tonight having to defend against actual strikers? And there’s two of them!
4.45pm: Below is a pic of Iker Casillas’ girlfriend and tv presenter Sara Carbonero in the media tent in Poznan ahead of the Spain v Ireland game. She’s not doing anything and there’s no story to go with it but when do we need a reason to post a picture of a beautiful woman? Never, that’s when.
4.39pm: We’ve seen a pretty high standard of refereeing in the tournament so far, Ireland’s first game excluded of course (IT WAS A NAILED ON PENO!!!!), but Howard Webb takes control of today’s first game so…..
01 Buffon, 02 Maggio, 03 Chiellini, 19 Bonucci, 05 Motta, 08 Marchisio, 13 Giaccherini, 16 De Rossi, 21 Pirlo, 09 Balotelli, 10 Cassano
01 Pletikosa, 02 Strinic, 05 Corluka, 13 Schildenfeld, 07 Rakitic, 08 Vukojevic, 10 Modric, 11 Srna, 20 Perisic, 09 Jelavic, 17 Mandzukic