Croatia vs Spain
Municipal Stadium, Gdansk.
The game started with a brisk tempo, Spain trying to get off to a good start; moving the ball around comfortably and breaking down the left.
Nothing much developed after that though, Croatia content to soak up the pressure and just holding Spain at arm’s length.
If Croatia were to knick a goal late in the second-half, and Italy didn’t conceed an equaliser, Spain would be out.
Croatia 0 – Spain 0 in Gdansk.
Italy 1 – Republic of Ireland 0 in Poznan.
Croatia started the second-half a little more positively; Spain in all sorts of problems before the hour was out.
Iker Casillas made a save from Ivan Rakitic look a little more spectacular than it really was, but it was a chance missed for Croatia.
Croatia 0 – Spain 1
Spain eventually cracked the Croatian nut, two minutes from time. With Croatia in need of a goal, they left a hole at the back. Cesc Fàbregas chipped the ball forward, to Iniesta who took it on the chest and laid off square to Jesús Navas. Stipe Pletikosa was stranded between them flailing his arms; whether to distract the players or appeal for offside…. but all in vain.
Croatia were dropped with a sucker punch just before the bell.
Croatia 0 – Spain 1 in Gdansk.
Italy 2 – Republic of Ireland 0 in Poznan.
1-Stipe Pletikosa; 13-Gordon Schildenfeld, 5-Vedran Corluka, 2-Ivan Strinic, 21-Domagoj Vida; 7-Ivan Rakitic, 8-Ognjen Vukojevic, 6-Danijel Pranjic, 11-Darijo Srna; 17-Mario Mandzukic, 10-Luka Modric.
Italy vs Republic of Ireland – Miejski Stadium, Poznan.
1-Gianluigi Buffon; 3-Giorgio Chiellini, 15-Andrea Barzagli, 6-Federico Balzaretti, 7-Ignazio Abate; 21-Andrea Pirlo, 5-Thiago Motta, 8-Claudio Marchisio, 16-Daniele De Rossi; 11-Antonio Di Natale, 10-Antonio Cassano.
Spain vs Republic of Ireland (4:0)
Municipal Stadium, Gdansk.
For all their pre-match bravado, poor Ireland allowed Fernando Torres to look the business as he wriggled away from a group of defenders across the middle of the Irish penalty area and fired the ball past Shay Given on the near post.
Ireland worked so hard to try and win the ball off Spain that they were too tired to do anything with it when they did; effectively giving possession back to their tormentors.
Ireland can think themselves lucky that Spain couldn’t add to that lead over the next forty minutes though.
Half-time: Spain 1 – Republic of Ireland 0
Ireland would need to keep it tight and score a goal in the next forty-five minutes if they were to avoid being the first casualty of Euro 2012.
Unfortunately, Shay Given didn’t read the script and within three minutes of the restart was punching the ball out to David Silva.
Spain 2 – Republic of Ireland 0
Silva didn’t panic under pressure from three Irish defenders; put his foot on the ball to slow down time and pick his spot, then side-footed the ball through the three defenders and under Given’s hand.
Fernando Torres was denied the chance of an International hat-trick when he was replaced by Cesc Fàbregas.
The four goals helps Spain’s goal difference, should they draw with Croatia and Italy beat Ireland.
Final Score: Spain 4 – Republic of Ireland 0
Republic of Ireland vs Croatia (1:3)
Miejski Stadium, Poznan.
The rain in Poznan couldn’t dampen the spirits of the Irish fans; at least for the first two minutes.
Ireland 1 – Croatia 1 (19 mins)
Ireland’s equaliser didn’t take long to come. Having applied plenty of pressure down the left a free-kick from that side was headed in by Sean St. Ledger, after beating Vedran Corluka to the ball.
The two early goals help turned the match into quite a battle for possession and advantage.
Half-time: Ireland 1 – Croatia 2
Ireland 1 – Croatia 3
Mirroring the first-half, Croatia scored again; three minutes after the start. Mario Mandzukic was again the scorer, again with his head; only this time it came of the post and hit Shay Given on its way back into the net.
Darijo Srna so nearly made it four for Croatia with a curling shot that could have been a cracker; twelve minutes from time.
Ireland had a couple of half chances and a penalty appeal turned down, but the clock was ticking against them.
Final Score: Ireland 1 – Croatia 3
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