Croatia capatilise on Italy wastage
Italy’s wastage in front of goal proved once again to be at fault for their Euro 2012 campaign as they failed to come back from a Mario Mandzukic equalizer to draw 1-1.
Italy hadn’t beaten Croatia since the fall of Yugoslavia in 1992, losing three times and drawing just two, but coming into the game knowing that a loss could see them fail to progress Cesare Prandelli wasn’t taking any chances as he started the same line-up to that of Spain.
Mario Balotelli was looking to make amends from his wasted opportunities during the match against Spain, but nerves got the better of him as he hesitated and saw his shot closed down by a defender in tenth minute of the game.
Claudio Marchisio let rip with a shot just thirty seconds later, but it was too high while Nikica Jelavic couldn’t beat Gianluigi Buffon in reaching his spilled shot nine minutes later.
The Azzurri kept on knocking on Stipe Pletikosa’s door, but each chance was wasted, while he performed a double save inside the small box off Marchisio.
Nevertheless, a minute later Andrea Pirlo managed to break the deadlock after he struck a sublime curling set-piece which beat the ‘keeper at the near post from 30-yards out, allowing the Azzurri to take a 1-0 need into the break.
There were no changes at the start of the second half but it was Croatia who came out guns blazing when Luka Modric fired in an early shot from the border of the box, but it had no power to beat Buffon.
Modric was at it again two minutes later, but the ball was too high of goal, while after suffering a knock to the head Thiago Motta was replaced by Riccardo Montolivo in the 56th minute of play.
Thirteen minutes later Balotelli made way for Antonio Di Natale, while Mario Mandzukic managed to score the equalizer with his second touch which fired off the post and into the goal in the 71st minute.
Play was halted due to several flares being set on light and the smoke causing poor visibility, but once play had resumed needless tackles and scrappy efforts in front of goal dominated the remaining minutes of play.
There were no further goals in the game as the match ended one-a-piece between Italy and Croatia, allowing for Croatia to maintain top spot with four points while the Azzurri move onto two points.