Italy through as Spain edge Croatia at Euro 2012

Italy put behind them a nightmare run-in both on and off the pitch to reach the Euro 2012 quarter-finals with a 2-0 defeat of Ireland - 18 years to the day that the Irish had stunned them with an opening 1-0 victory in the 1994 World Cup finals.

Italian fears that they would fall victim to a biscotto - or a biscuit - stitch up in Group C's other game also failed to materialise as holders Spain defeated Croatia 1-0 to top the group and leave the Croatians to take an early flight home.

It also marked a flat end to their 43-year-old coach Slaven Bilic's reign as he leaves to take over at Lokomotiv Moscow.

Spain will face the Group D runners-up in their quarter-final while Italy will play that group's runners-up.

Goals by Antonio Cassano and substitute Mario Balotelli ensured that the two most controversial players on the squad made headlines for the right reasons - though the latter looked to be keen on ruining his moment with some choice words.

Fellow substitute Leonardo Bonucci looked to have done him a favour by covering his mouth.

However, the victory and the place in the last eight put to bed their poor form coming into the finals and it said it all that this was their first win since last November.

With the added pressure of the matchfixing scandal that blew up just as they were settling into their pre-tournament training camp coach Cesare Prandelli could be rightly proud of his players.

However, Prandelli - who replaced Marcello Lippi after the humiliating first round exit at the 2010 World Cup finals - took note of the worrying fashion in which his side slowed considerably in the final quarter as they have done in their previous two games.

"Yes, I suffered a lot, but there was qualification at stake! Until the 75th minute we were comfortable, but after that, the Irish finished really strongly," said Prandelli.

The Irish - who wore black armbands in remembrance of six people killed when loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Volunteer Force sprayed a pub in Northern Ireland the day of the 1994 World Cup game - finished without a point.

However, they could take some heart out of the manner in which they upped their performance against the Italians - though it didn't take much to do so.

It was a sad way to end for what is likely to be the final bow at this level for veterans such as goalkeeper Shay Given, winger Damien Duff, who captained the side on his 100th appearance, and regular skipper Robbie Keane.

Their 73-year-old Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni was nevertheless happy with their final performance.

"We played much better this evening than we did against Spain and Croatia, we played with more personality and respected what we had said about credibility and commitment," he said.

Spain didn't produce one of their most scintillating performances against the Croats and could count themselves a little fortunate not to have come off worse had the Croats not had a worthy penalty appeal turned down by Wolfgang Stark.

"It was a difficult, intense match," admitted Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, the man who led the Furia Roja to World Cup glory in 2010.

"They got men behind the ball and stayed back and kept their shape well, only coming out on the counter-attack. Yet we had expected as much."

Bilic accepted that Spain had been the better side and instead bid a moving farewell to the side.

"We have a great team and this team hasn't said their last word, they have stil more to come and I just want to say a big thank you to my players, I have enjoyed the six years, every moment.

"I will never be as proud as I am now as being coach of Croatia is a unique experience."

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • China ignores global outcry vs reclamation
    China ignores global outcry vs reclamation

    On Wednesday, G-7 foreign ministers issued a Declaration on Maritime Security expressing alarm over “unilateral actions, such as large scale land reclamation, which change the status quo and increase tensions” in the region. In their communiqué, which did not specifically mention China, the ministers expressed belief that reclamation activities were meant to “change the status quo” in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, through which 40 percent of global trade passes. …

  • Project NOAH exec receives recognition
    Project NOAH exec receives recognition

    Project NOAH executive director and University of the Philippines professor Mahar Lagmay recently received recognition from the European Geosciences Union (EGU) for his work in disaster risk reduction and mitigation in the Philippines. …

  • Nightclub ban for US troops
    Nightclub ban for US troops

    The US Pacific Command has banned its troops in the Philippines from bars and nightclubs, a spokesman said yesterday, with the trial under way of a US Marine accused of murdering a transgender Filipino he met in a bar. Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will kick off tomorrow the 10-day annual military exercises, according to Capt. Alex Lim, a spokesman for the US forces, but there will be strict controls on their free time. Lim would not say why the restrictions were imposed but …

  • US-Phl war games to start under China’s shadow
    US-Phl war games to start under China’s shadow

    Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will kick off tomorrow expanded wargames, showcasing a deepening  defense alliance as alarm bells ring over China. The 10-day exercises in the Philippines are an annual affair between the longtime allies, but this time they will involve double the number of soldiers as last year in a sign of their expanding military partnership. The Philippines is seeking more US military and diplomatic support to fend off China’s increasing forcefulness in its bid …

  • Palace defends legal tack in sea row
    Palace defends legal tack in sea row

    There is nothing weak about taking the legal and diplomatic approach to push for the country’s claims in the disputed West Philippine Sea, Malacañang maintained yesterday. On Friday, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares led a rally in front of the Chinese consulate in Makati City to protest China’s massive reclamation activities in the Spratly island group to fortify its presence in the disputed waters. Colmenares also criticized the Philippine government for supposedly not doing enough to defend …

  • Veloso sons urge authorities to save mother from death
    Veloso sons urge authorities to save mother from death

    The sons of Mary Jane Veloso, who is facing execution in Indonesia for drug smuggling, yesterday appealed to government officials to do everything to spare their mother from death. “We love you,” Mark Daniel, 12, said when asked for a message for his mother following a press conference at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. Mark Daniel, an incoming Grade 8 student, reiterated his appeal to those in power to help save his mother from death. His younger brother, …

  • US-Philippines wargames to start under China's shadow
    US-Philippines wargames to start under China's shadow

    Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers on Monday will kick off expanded wargames, showcasing a deepening defence alliance as alarm bells ring over China. The 10-day exercises in the Philippines are an annual affair between the longtime allies, but this time they will involve double the number of soldiers as last year in a sign of their expanding military partnership. The Philippines is seeking more US military and diplomatic support to fend off China's increasing forcefulness in its bid …

  • Bar ban for US troops in Philippines amid murder trial
    Bar ban for US troops in Philippines amid murder trial

    The US Pacific Command has banned its troops in the Philippines from bars and nightclubs, a spokesman said Saturday, with the trial under way of a US Marine accused of murdering a transgender Filipina he met in a bar. Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will on Monday kick off 10-day annual military excercises, according to Captain Alex Lim, a spokesman for the US forces, but there will be strict controls on their free time. Lim would not say why the restrictions were imposed but …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options