Euro 2012: Day three report
- 11 June 2012 08:51
- Posted by Mark Booth
David Silva’s Spain played out an entertaining 1-1 draw with Mario Balotelli’s Italy and Ireland were swept aside by Croatia in another breathless day of Euro 2012 action.
Spain v Italy
It was a tense, technically engaging encounter between two of Europe’s footballing giants and in the early sparring it was clear that Spain weren’t going to have it all their own way. There were few clear-cut chances in the first half but the match really burst to life after the break.
Antonio Di Natale latched onto a measured through ball from Andrea Pirlo to get the scoring under way on 60 minutes before Fabregas hit back four-minutes later after a clever reverse pass from David Silva.
As the game wore on, Spain looked the likelier to get the winner, with Fernando Torres spurning an array of good chances but Italy hung on to claim a valuable point that leaves them well positioned to qualify.
Mario took centre stage for the hour he was on the pitch, showing some excellent hold-up play and neat footwork. He did manage to get a couple of shots away but failed to test Iker Casillas in the Spanish goal and he fluffed his best chance shortly before he was withdrawn.
Balotelli pickpocketed Sergio Ramos and closed in on goal but seemed to take an age to pull the trigger which allowed the Real Madrid defender to close in and win back possession.
The striker’s frustration was amplified when his replacement Antonio Di Natale scored with his first touch, however, based on this showing, Mario should have other opportunities to shine in the group’s more straightforward matches against Croatia and Ireland.
David Silva enjoyed a quieter afternoon overall but he was as accomplished on the ball as City supporters have come to expect and it was no surprise that he set up Cesc Fabregas’ equaliser.
It was a glorious assist from Silva, a nonchalant flick with the outside of his boot that fell invitingly into his teammates’ instep to guide home. He was immediately withdrawn from the action, perhaps wrapped in cotton wool by Vincente Del Bosque for the challenges that await.
Ireland v Croatia
It was heartbreak for the Irish in Poznan who know that their best chance of qualifying from the group stage has surely passed. “You’ll never beat the Irish” was the chant from the sea of green in the stands but it proved to be a hollow line of defiance after the Croats demonstrated their superiority in all areas for their 3-1 win.
Ireland face the daunting reality that they must pick up at least four points from matches against Italy and Spain. On this evidence, it would take a miracle.
Check out our photo gallery of David Silva and Mario Balotelli's epic showdown in Gdansk.