Italy beat Ireland, go through
Italy have beaten the Republic of Ireland 2-0 in their final Euro 2012 Group C match and go through to the knockout stages having finished second behind Spain.
Goals by Antonio Cassano in the 35th minute and Mario Balotelli in the 90th minute secured the win in Poznan and gave Italy five points from their three matches in the group.
Cesare Prandelli’s men dominated for the majority of the opening half and a header from Cassano gave the Azzurri a lead before Balotelli closed the game with a typically dramatic finish.
Italy had their chances and could well have gone ahead before Cassano’s strike. It was just a matter of time before Ireland would give way.
It was Italy schemer Andrea Pirlo who created the opening when he whipped in a dangerous ball to the near post from a corner kick and Cassano pounced to head over the line.
The introduction of Shane Long midway through the second half gave Ireland something to get excited about.
The West Brom forward gave the Italian defence a few concerns. Their best chance came from a long range Keith Andrews effort, but Gianluigi Buffon was up to the task.
But then Andrews was given a second yellow card for kicking the ball away in frustration.
Italy made sure they wrapped the game up and took advantage of their one man advantage when Balotelli sealed the deal with a dramatic finish in the dying seconds.
The win took Italy to the quarterfinals of Euro 2012 and set them up for a tie with the winners of Group of D.
Meanwhile the Republic of Ireland will be heading home without having registered a point in the group.