Italy have qualified for Euro 2012 quarter-finals as runners-up at Group C behind Spain due to a hard fought 2-0 victory vs Ireland in Poznan with Super sick Mario Balotelli sealing the victory. Video
Poznan Euro 2012 News / NationalTurk – Italian striker duo Antonio Cassano’s first-half header and Mario Balotelli’s spectacular late volley and his morbid goal celebration gave Italy a 2-0 win vs Ireland which took them into the Euro 2012 quarter-finals as Group C runners-up behind Spain. The AC Milan striker headed home from Andrea Pirlo’s 35th-minute corner before substitute Balotelli added a second at the death to finally kill off Republic of Ireland’s brave resistance.
Italy manager Cesare Prandelli’s men were on top for the majority of the first half of the game Ireland vs Italy, and a header from Antonio Cassano minutes before half-time gave the squadro azzurra lead to hold on to. Mario Balotelli then stepped up to seal the victory moments before the final whistle with a typically dramatic finish from just outside the six-yard box. Balotelli ‘s goal celebration was as spectacular as the goal itself. He turned toward the Italian bench and began to swear and moving his hands and arms before he was stopped by a teammate and a verbal warning from Italian midfielder Tiago Motta.
Italy vs Ireland Euro 2012 : Balotelli goal celebration vs Ireland is sick
Mario Balotelli was dropped from Italy’s starting XI in the Euro 2012 Group C decisive game of Italy vs Ireland after two forgettable matches. To say Balotelli looked ordinary would be giving him too much credit. It put into question his nickname ‘ Super Mario ‘ with that name being transferred over to Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic, who is Euro’s co-leading scorer. But with Mario Balotelli goal vs Ireland he got his nickname back but with an additional ‘ sick ‘ between Super Mario.
Apparently upset at having lost his nickname (because nicknames are that important to Balotelli, or just to keep this nickname theme going), Balotelli decided to do the most super thing of the tournament thus far. He came in off the bench and scored a peach of a goal. A stupendous goal? A super goal. and what a goal celebration followed that strike. Actually Balotelli’s reaction to his super goal vs Ireland was out of sheer anger and frustration.
Spain’s 1-0 win over Croatia in Gdansk meant the reigning Euro champions topped Group C, but Italy managed to go through the Quarter Finals of Euro 2012 in second place.
Euro 2012 : Italy and Spain did not suprise in Group C
On a night when only victory would do for Cesare Prandelli’s men, Italy succeeded to come up with the means against a Republic of Ireland side whose exit from Euro 2012 was already confirmed last week.
But while Italy dominated for long periods, it was unable to find a way past the green shirts for a second time to leave Republic of Ireland, led by winger Damien Duff on his 100th appearance for his country, in with a chance until Balotelli eventually calmed the nerves.
Giovanni Trapattoni’s side, which had midfielder Keith Andrews sent off late on, staged a late blitz on the Italian goal which came up only just short, and although it restored some of its battered pride, it will return to Dublin having failed to collect a single point.Trapattoni turns attention to 2014 World Cup with the againg Republic of Ireland squad.
Duff and his team-mates ran out wearing black armbands to mark the 18th anniversary of the shootings of six men in Loughinisland, County Down, as the victims watched the national team play Italy at the 1994 FIFA World Cup finals in the United States.
That day, Ray Houghton’s goal secured a famous victory over the Italians, and the latest generation set out in determined fashion in an attempt to repeat the feat.
Italy vs Ireland Euro 2012 Highlights as it happened
Republic of Ireland might have taken the lead straight from the kick-off when Kevin Doyle ran on to Pirlo’s careless pass, but defender Giorgio Chiellini dispossessed him before he could shoot.
Republic of Ireland safely negotiated the opening five minutes which had previously proved so problematical in the tournament, but as the deep-sitting Pirlo started to pull the strings, found itself having to defend for dear life.
Italy came extremely close to taking the lead on the half-hour mark when Federico Balzaretti went on a marauding run down the left-hand side and reversed a pass into the area for Antonio Di Natale. The Udinese forward then swivelled sharply and hooked a strike at goal, but Sean St Ledger was on hand to make a brave block with his chest from six yards.
Then came the period of real dominance for Prandelli’s Italy side vs Ireland, and they nearly took the lead again moments later when Di Natale took the ball beyond Shay Given and attempted to twist a shot over the line from a tight angle, but Richard Dunne sprinted back to make a terrific clearance from underneath the crossbar.
Ireland boys failed to weather the storm and went behind in the 38th minute thanks to a headed goal from Ac Milan striker Cassano. Andrea Pirlo whipped in a dangerous cross to the near post from a corner kick and his former Milan team-mate bulleted a header at goal that just squeezed over the line, with Shay Given and Damien Duff’s joint attempts to clear proving futile.
Italy vs Ireland : Italy finds the composure and resilience to win a game at Euro’s
But where that had been beyond it in Italy’s opening two games, this time Italian squad on the field found the resilience and organisation which had brought it to the Quarter finals of Euro 2012.
The two sides traded blows in their own particular fashions, the Italians stylish and patient, the Irish more direct and abrasive, but with neither goalkeeper being called upon at all.
Richard Dunne and Sean St Ledger both had to get in good blocks to prevent Antonio Di Natale from troubling Shay Given, and the Leicester City defender had to be on his toes to dispossess the same man as he threatened to carve his way into the penalty area once again.
But with 10 minutes of the first half remaining, Italy started to turn the screw.
Glenn Whelan’s misplaced pass allowed Cassano to pick out Di Natale and when he rounded Given on the right side of the penalty area and shot from a tight angle, St Ledger once again came to the rescue on the line.
But the reprieve was only temporary and after Shay Given, whose retirement has arrived, had conceded a corner by spilling Antonio Cassano’s snapshot, Cesar Prandelli’s men edged ahead.
Balotelli goal vs Ireland : The celebration muffled by teammates
Pirlo’s near-post delivery was met with a glancing header by Cassano and although Given got a hand to it, he could not keep the ball out of the net.
The sense of relief among the Italian fans, who were dwarfed in number by their Irish counterparts, was palpable, and will have been shared both on the pitch and the bench.
However, Prandelli’s players returned knowing they still had to get through another 45 minutes and hope things elsewhere continued to go for them if they were to progress.
It would have been 2-0 within three minutes of the restart had St Ledger not once again denied Di Natale with a vital block, and Given had to get down well to keep out Cassano’s side-footed effort seconds later with Italy looking to kill the game off.
Daniele De Rossi curled a 51st-minute shot over the angle of bar and post with Republic of Ireland looking more open than it had at any point until then.
But there was a flicker of hope for Republic of Ireland when Robbie Keane forced Ignazio Abate to concede a corner which Dunne headed wide.
Given had to repel another Di Natale effort at his near post with 55 minutes gone, but Andrews tested Gianluigi Buffon from distance for the first time on the hour.
Sensing that its time was passing, Republic of Ireland launched a sustained assault on the Italian goal, urging Cesar Prandelli to introduce wild card striker Balotelli with 15 minutes to go.
But Italian living legend Buffon had to be at his best to keep out Andrews’ drilled 79th-minute shot from Damian Duff’s back-heeled free-kick, with Ireland throwing everything it had at Italy. But sadly they have not much firepower.
However, it all turned sour at the death as Andrews, who had earlier been booked for a foul, received a second yellow card for dissent seconds before Balotelli hooked home a Pirlo corner to secure the win. Mario Balotelli finally broke his goal scoring drought at the European Championship. And he apparently has teammate Leonardo Bonucci to thank for preventing his breakthrough moment from turning sour. His harsh words aimed at Italian bench was muffled Balotelli ‘s teammate in a joint effort to silence the Super Sick Mario the Balotelli.