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Euro 2012: Live Group C blog

by Josh Powell | June 18, 2012

The boys in green may be out of the tournament but they can still have a say on whether or not Italy make the knock-out phase.

Ireland face Italy in Poznan with the Italians needing a win to stand any chance of qualifying.

Spain face Croatia in Gdansk knowing a point will see them through and a win will guarantee them top spot in the group. Croatia need to win to qualify.

The big talking point is that if this game ends in a high-scoring draw then both teams go through at the expense of Italy. Could there really be a Group C conspiracy? 

You can read our match previews to get some top tips ahead of the games and in a few hours we will know two more teams in the quarter-finals. It’s just a shame it won’t be Trap’s army.

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Ireland 0-2 Italy FT
Spain 1-0 Croatia FT

 ‘This is a crisis for Irish soccer’, Eamon Dunphy

9.50pm: ‘We salvaged some pride against Italy, but we’ll still look back on the tournament as one where you could put the highlights on a matchbox, rather than a DVD’ says Ciaran O’Raghallaigh in Poznan.

‘Questions to be asked once again of some senior players – but will they walk, or will Trap push them?’

9.46pm: The tournament continues for Italy and Spain but for Croatia and Ireland you expect there will be some major fallout. It seems an injustice that Croatia are out when Greece and Czech Republic are through but that’s the way it goes.

9.43pm: So Spain top the group with Italy in second. Croatia are unlucky to go out after creating some cracking chances against the Spanish who looked a bit lacklustre tonight. Italy were good but Ireland were poor again. The less said about Ireland’s tournament the better unfortunately.

9.39pm: Once again the Fields of Athenry is the only thing you can hear despite the Italian celebrations. You would have thought the Irish had gone through here. They haven’t though. The fans have been incredible but on the pitch Ireland were awful. Three loses, nine goals conceded, only one scored. It’s depressing reading.

9.38pm: As the news filters through there are wild celebrations on the pitch from the Italians.

9.37pm: Full-time in Ireland v Italy and now full time in Gdansk. Spain win 1-0 and Croatia are out.

9.37pm: Croatia are pushing for the equaliser that would see them through. They have a free-kick here and up comes Pletikosa…

9.35pm: Added time in both games.

9.33pm: GOAL! Balotelli with a belting finish from a corner. Back to goal he hooks the ball around O’Shea and past a helpless Given. Ireland’s Euro 2012 campaign has been a nightmare.

9.32pm: Keith Andrews has been sent off for the Republic. He got a second yellow card for tussling with Pirlo it appears. That sums up Ireland’s tournament unfortunately.

9.31pm: GOAL! Spain will go through! Croatia try to play offside but Fabregas chips it through to Iniesta who squares it to Jesus Navas. It’s an emphatic finish and now Bilic’s side have an awful lot to do.

9.29pm: Robbie Keane comes off for Cox. Is that Keano’s last game in an Irish shirt?

9.29pm: Pletikosa blocks a stinging Navas shot at his near post. Croatia need something to happen here.

9.27pm: Balotelli goes down very easily but wins the free-kick. Looked like a blatent dive and St Ledger gets booked for his protests. This is certainly Pirlo range.

9.25pm: Into the last ten minutes, are we in for any late drama in Group C?

9.23pm: The Croatia v Spain game starting to get really stretched as Croatia begin taking more risks. Srna makes a great saving tackle as Busquets breaks free. Eduardo is coming on for Vukojevic. Can the former Arsenal player get the winner?

9.22pm: Andrews hits a great free-kick from outside the box and Buffon gets down to make a good save. Croatia look fantastic on the counter-attack and Perisic draws a good save from Casillas.

9.21pm: Croatia flinging bodies at the feet of Fabregas, he can’t get his shot away. Desperate defending from Croatia who need to score to qualify. Heading towards the 80th minute.

9.19pm: Doyle makes way for Walters. The last 15 minutes has been Ireland’s best spell in this game. In Gdansk Spain have looked well below par but are knocking the ball around comfortably enough.

9.18pm: Dunne gets penalised for challenging Buffon in the air. And here comes some madness. Balotelli is on for Di Natale. Expect something mental to happen.

9.16pm: De Rossi goes down and messes about a bit. He has a big moan about getting elbowed in the head and then Buffon adds his views. Buffon get’s booked for being gobby. Ireland are having the better of the play and have a corner.

9.15pm: Cesc Fabregas is preparing to come on for Spain. He’s got two goals in two games this tournament. Off comes Silva.

9.14pm: De Rossi is booked for bundling over Doyle. Clever play from Doyle who looked like he was running into trouble.

9.14pm: Croatia have to score to qualify, they are 13/2 to beat Spain.

9.12pm: Croatia play direct and Jelavic was only a couple of inches away from heading them into the lead.

9.11pm: O’Shea concedes a free-kick right on the edge of the box and this is dangerous. Spain are going through the gears against Croatia. You feel there is a goal coming.

9.11pm: Navas drills a dangerous ball across the face of goal for Spain but it results in nothing more than a corner.

9.09pm: It’s McGeady who makes way. In Gdansk Croatia make a double substituion to try and find the break through against Spain. Perisic and Jelavic are on for Vida and Pranjic.

9.07pm: An hour gone and Shane Long is preparing to come on for the boys in green.

9.05pm: Diamanti is coming on for the goalscorer Cassano.

9.04pm: Torres is off for Jesus Navas, looks like Silva is playing up front on his own now. In Poznan Keith Andrews pings an effort from 20-odd yards but it’s straight at Buffon.

9.02pm: Oh my! Modric does amazingly well to skip past Sergio Ramos and his cross finds Rakitic unmarked. Casillas pulls of a great save but that should be 1-0. An electrifying break from Croatia and stunning play by Modric.

9.01pm: Mandzukic does really well there. No support for him up front for Croatia but he holds the ball up well and wins the free-kick. Relieves the pressure on his defence and gives them an opportunity from the set piece. Brilliant play from the forward.

9.00pm: Chiellini is in a bad way for the Italians after stretching for the ball. Looks like he’s done his hammy. On comes Bonucci.

8.57pm: Modric looks good when he gets on the ball but he’s struggling to pick out Mandzukic who is all on his own up top. Pique having a fairly easy game so far.

8.56pm: Good work from McGeady results in an Ireland corner but Dunne heads wide. Croatia fans have set off another flare in Gdansk and there’s a bit of smoke billowing around Pletikosa’s goal.

8.55pm: De Rossi tries to curl one in from the edge of the box but it’s well over, Italy threatening to get a second here. They are 8/11 to score the next goal.

8.53pm: Lovely football from Italy. Great work from Balzaretti who tees up Cassano. Dunne gets a last ditch boot to the ball as it headed towards the bottom corner. Stunning movement from Italy. The Irish were mesmerised for a second there.

8.51pm: Ireland defending well. Di Natale with the attempt but St Ledger in the way. Ireland putting bodies in front of the ball again.

8.49pm: Timed to perfection both games are back under way. No changes for anyone anywhere.

8.47pm: There are only certain players that can play with their collar up. Cantona was one. Buffon definitely is one. Hopefully McGeady doesn’t get any ideas.

8.46pm: The players will be back out very shortly. I hate to say it but goals change games. A goal for Croatia as it stands will knock Spain out. How do like that for Monday night drama?

8.42pm: ‘Ireland have had only a 57% pass completion in the first half, which just isn’t good enough at this level.

One shot on goal is another negative statistic, in a fairly positive half. Shane Long and James McClean are good, pacy options on the bench, which should add to the confidence.’ Our man Ciaran O’Raghallaigh in the Municipal Stadium.

8.41pm: STAT live from Poznan coming up…

8.41pm: Ireland 22/1, draw 11/2, Italy 1/9

8.40pm: Croatia 6/1, draw 7/4, Spain 8/11

8.39pm: Latest betting odds on the way…

8.37pm: In Poznan, Italy have no way dominated. Sloppy Irish play led to the Italian goal but they are playing better than in the opening two games.

‘Ireland are no way out of this and can take confidence from their opening 30 minutes’, Ciaran O’Raghallaigh in the Municipal Stadium.

8.36pm: Spain playing very un-Spain like to be honest. There is no urgency about their play and Croatia are getting men behind the ball and closing down quickly.

8.34pm: Torres loses the ball and the ref blows the whistle. Very few chances in that game. Croatia defending very well but as it stands they are out. Croatia need something to change after the break.

8.33pm: Half -time in Poznan and Italy lead 1-0 thanks to Cassano’s goal. A few minutes left in Gdansk where Croatia continue to defend strongly against the Spanish.

8.30pm: Srna picks up a booking for Croatia. They’re doing a great job of keeping Spain at bay but it’s not making for a very good game to be honest.

8.28pm: The pressure is on Croatia to start taking more risks now. They need to win now to go through. If Croatia do score now then Spain are out. WOW!

8.25pm: O’Shea gets booked after his arm collides with Balzaretti’s face. The Italian made the most of it and O’Shea is unlucky. Since the goal Ireland are in danger of falling apart. They can’t afford to concede again before the break.

8.24pm: But it hits the wall. As it stands Italy top Group C with Spain going through as runners-up.

8.23pm: Now Andrews is booked and this is a dangerous position for the Irish. Pirlo can sure hit them from here.

8.21pm: GOAL! Given fumbles a long distance effort round the post and from the corner Cassano heads towards goal. Given gets a hand to it and Duffer who is on the line hooks it on to the bar but it’s well over the line. Italy lead.

8.20pm: Little over ten minutes till half-time and Croatia are defending well in Gdansk. They are 13/2 to win with Spain odds on at 8/13.

8.19pm: As it stands Italy and Ireland are out. The Italians need to win here and are 8/13 to do so with Paddy Power. The draw is 9/4 and an Irish win is 11/2.

8.17pm: Cassano swivels and hits a great shot that’s blocked by St Ledger. Definitely not a hand ball. Great block.

8.15pm: McGeady makes Balzaretti look silly and then gets a kicking for his troubles. The Italian gets booked and now the Irish fans are doing the Poznan!

8.13pm: Penalty claim! Madzukic is causing problems for the Spanish defence and is sent clattering to the floor by Sergio Ramos. It’s right under the nose of the man with the stick behind the goal but it’s not given. Corluka gets booked for having a big moan. That is a big decision from the ref.

8.11pm: McGeady seeing a lot of the ball for the Irish. He plays in Doyle but the move breaks down. Ciaran in Poznan says, ‘It’s much better from Ireland, in terms of the system and the play. McGeady, stepping inside and getting on the ball, is key. Italy don’t play with much width, so Aiden can move in and get on the ball a lot more.’

8.09pm: Sergio Ramos has an effort from well over 30 yards out. It’s on target but Pletikosa holds on to it easily. Ireland have a corner in Poznan but St Ledger can’t get his head to Duff’s cross.

8.07pm: 20 minutes in and no clear cut chances in either game. Both Ireland and Croatia defending well against better opposition.

8.06pm: When Croatia do go forward they are instantly outnumbered. They are not getting many players in attacking positions at all. So far a very disciplined and defensive performance from Bilic’s team. That will all change if Italy score.

8.03pm: Italy have their fifth corner of the game but it results in nothing. Ireland looking strong at the back again. Spain are still knocking the ball around nicely but are yet to create a decent chance.

8.02pm: Pirlo stays down after a stunning tackle from Doyle. Ireland kick it out of play which is very nice of them but that’s just plain cheating from the Italian. Unsurprisingly he’s up very quickly and running around again. The Irish fans tell him exactly what’s for.

8.00pm: Spain knocking the ball around nicely but Croatia are closing down quickly and reaping the rewards. Spain have had 78% of the ball but done nothing with it.

7.59pm: Lovely play form Spain and it ends with Iniesta pinging a shot at goal. It’s well held by Pletikosa.

7.58pm: Pirlo whips in a cracking corner but it’s well defended by Dunne. The Irish holding strong at the back.

7.56pm: Pique takes out Mandzukic but the referee says there’s nothing doing. The big man has looked a bit isolated up top on his own in the opening ten minutes.

7.54pm: Croatian fans decide it would be hilarious to throw a flare on to the pitch. There is a slight delay but we’re back under way now the smoke has cleared.

7.53pm: Ireland not only have gone five minutes without conceding but they are looking very good. This is by far and away the best the Irish have played all tournament. The Fields of Athenry rings out loud and clear.

7.52pm: STAT! Torres only had the ball for 38 seconds against Ireland but managed to have five shots, four on target and score twice. Very good Fernando.

7.51pm: Doyle gets up but can’t win the header. In Gdansk Torres heads wide from a corner.

7.50pm: Duff wins a free-kick in a dangerous position for Ireland. This is a chance for the boys in green.

7.48pm: Spain playing in light blue having a lot of the ball but Croatia are pacey out wide. Modric looks like he could cause the Champions problems.

7.47pm: De Rossi hits a first time volley from 20 yards well wide.

7.46pm: Italy kick off in Poznan and we’re underway in Gdansk as well.

7.45pm: Bilic looking very scruffy. Top button undone, tie all over the place. Come on Slaven. Step it up mate.

7.44pm: Passionate rendition of the Italian anthem. They have to win to have any chance of going through remember.

7.41pm: The Irish anthem is absolutely blasted out. Keano was pitch perfect as always. 

7.35pm: Just over five minutes until kick-off. Ciaran O’Raghallaigh is in Poznan for the Paddy Power Blog.

‘Amazing support once again in and around the Poznan stadium tonight, for a team that’s been ritually beaten up not once, but twice’, he says.

‘Once more, the Irish support will outnumber their opposition fans, and their good nature, humour and passion has won huge support from every other set of fans here. There’s no prizes for being the best in the stands, but these lads are winners.’

7.31pm: Balotelli is on the bench for the Italians just in case Cesare Prandelli wants to bring some unpredictable chaos to the game later on. Antonio Di Natale starts ahead of him.

7.28pm: One change by Trap bringing in Doyle for Cox. Duffer gets the captain’s armband for the night as he picks up his 100th cap.

7.26pm: So Croatia drop Everton striker Jelavic and play five in midfield to try and stifle the Spanish. Will it work?

Croatia v Spain: PGE Arena, Gdansk

Spain: Casillas, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Arbeloa, Alba, Iniesta, Xavi, Alonso, Busquets, Silva, Torres

Croatia: Pletikosa, Strinic, Corluka, Pranjic, Schildenfeld, Vida, Rakitic, Vukojevic, Modric, Srna, Mandzukic
Ireland v Italy: Municipal Stadium, Poznan

Ireland: Given, St Ledger, Ward, O’Shea, Dunne, Whelan, McGeady, Andrews, Duff, Doyle, Keane

Italy: Buffon, Chiellini, Balzaretti, Abate, Barzagli, Motta, Marchisio, De Rossi, Pirlo, Cassano, Di Natale

7.15pm: Team news on the way!

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