Euro 2012 Group C: Italy 1-1 Croatia | inside World Soccer

Euro 2012 Group C: Italy 1-1 Croatia

[Friday, June 15, 2012 ]

Croatia striker Mario Mandžukić notched a late equaliser to force a 1-1 draw with Italy in Group C of Euro 2012 on Thursday.

Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio fails to score past Croatia goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa
Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio fails to score past Croatia goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa

Photo: AP

Cesare Prandelli's side started brightly in Poznań and should have taken the lead eight minutes from the break, only for Claudio Marchisio to twice be denied by Stipe Pletikosa.

Mario Balotelli then won a free-kick on the edge of the box, allowing Andrea Pirlo to whip a free-kick over the wall and inside Pletikosa's right-hand post.

Croatia improved after the break but, after Luka Modrić fired a 20-yard shot a yard over the bar, the encounter turned scrappy, dominated by niggly fouls and challenges until Balotelli came within inches with a fierce drive on the hour.

Then finally, in the 72nd minute, Mandžukić collected Ivan Strinić's cross at the back post before the ball over Gianluigi Buffon for a crucial equaliser.

Slaven Bilić's side finished the game the stronger as they went in search of the winner that would have sealed their last-eight place, but it was not to be, leaving both sides facing a dramatic final group game.

Lineups:

Italy: Gianluigi Buffon; Leonardo Bonucci, Daniele De Rossi, Giorgio Chiellini; Christian Maggio, Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Pirlo, Thiago Motta (Riccardo Montolivo, 62), Emanuele Giaccherini; Mario Balotelli (Antonio Di Natale, 69), Antonio Cassano (Sebastian Giovinco, 83)

Croatia: Stipe Pletikosa; Darijo Srna, Vedran Ćorluka, Gordon Schildenfeld, Ivan Strinić; Ivan Rakitić, Ognjen Vukojević, Luka Modrić, Ivan Perišić (Danijel Pranjić, 68); Mario Mandžukić (Niko Kranjčar, 90), Nikica Jelavić (Eduardo, 83)



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