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Tuesday 19 June 2012

Spain and Italy progress at Euro 2012

Man City's Mario Balotelli among the scorers as Group C reaches a tense finale

  • Manchester City's Mario Balotelli scored late on as Italy grabbed a place in the last eight

  • Fernando Torres was unable to get on the scoresheet, but Spain made it through

Italy 2-0 Republic of Ireland

Croatia 0-1 Spain

Defending European champions Spain and Italy reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 after a tense finale to Group C.

Spain needed an 88th-minute goal from Jesus Navas to see off a spirited Croatia side who knew - with the scores goalless - that they could have put the holders out with a win.

Italy took full advantage of the result, with Antonio Cassano and Manchester City's Mario Balotelli scoring the goals which ensured they would leapfrog Slaven Bilic's Croatia in the table.

The Spaniards struggled to create clear-cut opportunities throughout the match in Gdansk despite dominating possession.

As the second-half progressed, they were thankful for a smart save from Iker Casillas from Croatia's Ivan Rakitic on a breakaway.

But Navas rifled into the roof of the net to finish from Andres Iniesta's pass to settle the match late on.

That guaranteed them top spot and gave Italy the opportunity to take second spot provided they could beat the Republic of Ireland.

Cassano's header gave them a first-half lead, and Balotelli produced a sumptuous volleyed finish late on to seal the win against an Ireland side who had Keith Andrews sent off for a second yellow card.

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Key Points

  • Antonio Cassano and Man City's Mario Balotelli score as Italy beat Ireland
  • Late Jesus Navas goal secures narrow Spain win over Croatia
  • Spain and Italy progress to quarter-finals of Euro 2012