Sunday, 10 June 2012

UEFA Euro 2012 Day 3, Group C LIVE Coverage:

Hello and welcome to the 3rd day of this year's UEFA Euro 2012.
This only happens once every four years, and already we have seen 4 great matches between some of the best international teams in the world!

This weekend's action concludes with two matches from Group C where the European champions Spain are hoping to retain their Euro title, which they won in 2008 against Germany.

So here are the matches:

Spain vs Italy: LIVE from 17:00pm on ITV1

Republic Of Ireland vs Croatia: LIVE from 19:45pm (also on ITV1)

Spain vs Italy:


Spain: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Alonso, Silva, Fabregas, Iniesta. 
Subs: Valdes, Albiol, Javi Martinez, Juanfran, Pedro, Torres, Negredo, Mata, Llorente, Santi Cazorla, Jesus Navas, Reina.

One to watch:

David Silva 

A quick, clever winger who can create, score and assist.
He can weave past players with skill and confuses defences all the time.

Electric: David Silva will be Spain's main playmaker today.

FACT: 9 players in Spain's starting 11 play for Real Madrid or Barcelona. What does that tell you?!

Italy: Buffon, Chiellini, De Rossi, Bonucci, Giaccherni, Marchisio, Pirlo, Thiago Motta, Maggio, Cassano, Balotelli. 
Subs: Sirigu, Ogbonna, Balzaretti, Abate, Di Natale, Barzagli, Borini, Montolivo, Giovinco, Diamanti, Nocerino, De Sanctis.

One to watch:

Mario Balotelli

The Headliner: Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli will start for Italy tonight.

A highly controversial figure in Mario Balotelli.
Despite this, he is a danger for all defences and knows how to score. 
He will be watched by many today, and will be in the newspapers tomorrow, whether it be good or bad....

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli among the notable faces for Italy today.
Legend Buffon starts in goal today.

17:00: After the national anthems and the EPIC countdown from the announcer, we are underway in the first of two Euro 2012 matches tonight.
The sun is shining in the Arena Gdansk, Poland and the grass is green. 

Build-up: Spain fans on their way to the stadium to watch the match in Poland.


0: Spain kick-off here.

5: Slow, patient build-up play by Spain with quick incisive passing so far.
An Italian free-kick hit the wall and came of nothing.

7: Italy corner whipped into the box by Andrea Pirlo, but again nothing came of it.

9: Spain winger David Silva has a shot from 20 yards out, but it is always rising and goes over the bar. 
All Spain at the moment.

10: Mario Balotelli finds himself in space to take a shot which he does.
Luckily a block by Arbeloa ensures a corner to Italy.

12: An Italian free-kick by Andrea Pirlo is parried away by Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Close by Italy, good save though.

17: Italy defender Thiago Motta has to receive treatment now for a bruised shoulder after a kick with studs up from Real Madrid defender Arbeloa.

21: Italy striker Cassano has a shot from 16 yards out towards goal.... NEAR MISS!!!
Mario Balotelli was lurking inside the box but was not able to apply a finishing touch.

30: Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets is tackled by Andrea Pirlo who fails to win the ball, and tackles late.
Spain win a free-kick and it is taken quickly.

31: Cassano is desperate to win the ball, and puts Spainish goalkeeper Casillas under pressure. He ends up clipping his leg and gives away a free-kick.

33: Cassano takes a shot towards goal.... parried away by Real Madrid goalkeeper Casillas to Balotelli who gets tackled by Pique who clears the ball away.

Balotelli is furious at being tackled inside the box, and feels that he should be awarded a penalty.
He slams his fists into the ground. 

35: Italy are continuing to press here with quick passing.
This is the first time in the match that they are actually looking for a goal.

36: Balotelli tackles left-back Jordi Alba with his studs up.
He is booked for the late challenge, and it is not a surprise...

41: Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque looks unimpressed at the score-line right now while Busquets fouls Thiago Motta.

45: A cross from Italy into Thiago Motta who powerfully headers the ball towards goal... PARRIED!! away by Casillas... There will be 1 minute of stoppage time to be added on here.

45+1: The referee blows the whistle to end the first half here at Gdansk.


Spain 0 Italy 0

Spain have been dominating possession throughout this half, but no strikers on the itch for them this half has been evident with their lack of goalscoring chances. 
Italy have been fired up in the last 10-15 minutes of the half but Casillas has been solid and equal to all of the shots so far.

It will be a very interesting second half to come with lots of goals predicted.


45: The second half has started

48: Cameras show Chelsea striker Fernando Toress is warming up for Spain right now.

49: Good build-up play by Spain before Fabregas has a shot parried away by Buffon.
We are very close to the opening goal here...

51: Xavi and Iniesta both have had shots in less than 2 minutes, both just wide of the goal though.

53: Balotelli wins the ball from Ramos, before jogging forward with it inside the box. He is about to let a shot rip before Ramos makes up for his mistake with a last-ditch tackle to deny the Italian.

Wasteful? Balotelli had a chance to give Italy the lead, but took too long on the ball and Ramos intercepted him.

He should have scored there, Balotelli and took too long with the ball.

Italy SUB:
Mario Balotelli OFF
Antonio Di Natale ON

A smart move by Italy. Balotelli is already on a yellow card, and wasted a golden chance. He does not want to get a second yellow, and Di Natale is a good, clinical striker.

60: Midfielder Andrea Pirlo who finds Natale with a through ball. Natale is onside..... and shapes to shoot.... GOAL!!!!

On the hour mark: Natale places the ball past Casillas to give Italy the lead after 60 minutes.
Flying high: 4 minutes after coming on for Balotelli, Natale breaks the deadlock in Gdansk.

He places the ball past Casillas who comes out but is beaten by a good 

Italy have opened the scoring here!! Super sub Natale breaks the deadlock!

63: GOAL!
Winger David Silva finds Cesc Fabregas who keeps himself onside before chipping goalkeeper Buffon.

Drama: Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas scores his 10th goal for Spain to equalise against Italy.

We are back in it: Fabregas celebrates his goal with the playmaker Silva (right)

Instant fightback from the defending European champions!!

Spain SUB:

David Silva OFF
Jesus Navas ON

Italy SUB:

Antonio Cassano OFF
Sebastian Giovinco ON 

Italy's Giovinco is coming on now.... a danger to Spain.

66: Iniesta is caught by Italy defender Bonucci.
High challenge, dangerous, yellow card given.

67: Jordi Alba also booked for his part in the follow-up from the foul.

72: Nice ball into the box by winger Jesus Navas for Alba who volleys downwards toward goal.... MISS!!!


Spain SUB:

Cesc Fabregas OFF
Fernando Torres ON

The goalscorer is coming off. 
Chelsea striker Fernando Torres is coming ON.

FACT: After 73 minutes, Spain have their first striker on the pitch in the match.

75: Torres is straight into the action. He found space with the ball and tried to go past goalkeeper Buffonm who tackled him and saw it coming. He cleared the danger.

76: Giovinco found Natale with a cross, he connected with his foot at full stretch but was wide.

82: Real Madrid and Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso has been given a warning by the referee after a tackle on Giovinco.
He looked to get the ball, but his studs were up.

83: Two yellow cards in less than 30 seconds for Spain.
First, defender Arbaloa with a bodycheck on Giovinco to stop his movement from 30 yards out.
Then, Torres elbows De Rossi and is given a yellow.

84: Nice two-touch passing by Xavi and Torres as they are linking up together well. 
Buffon comes out after Xavi's through ball back to Torres, who chips Buffon from 24 yards out... OVER THE BAR!!!
Unlucky from Torres who had the right idea but could not keep his chip down. His confidence is still low.

88: Two chances - 1 at either end.
First, winger Jesus Navas had a low shot from the edge of the box caught by Buffon before a one-touch layoff by Marchisio and Motta was saved comfortably by Casillas.

Antonio Nocerino ON

90: There will be three minutes of stoppage time to be added on here.

90+3: The referee blows the whistle to end this match.


Spain 1 Italy 1

Spain will feel disappointed that they have not won and taken all three points. Italy will feel thankful that they at least took a point but must feel that they could have won the match if Balotelli had taken his chance. 

Spain dominated the match with the possession stats and passing in their favour, but they could not finish their chances.

My Man of the Match:

Andres Iniesta 

He controlled the tempo of the match, looked for gaps in Italy's defence and took some shots to rattle Buffon.
He was unlucky not to score, assist and made lots of runs throughout the match. 

Flop of the Match:

Mario Balotelli

Even though he did not have a stinker of a match, he failed to convert a clear cut chance by taking too long on the ball.
He did not control his emotions at all and eventually got booked for a silly challenge on Alba.
He looked sharp for the first 20-25 minutes, but after he got tackled by Pique he just went off in a strop because things did not go his way.

He eventually got substituted - before he got sent off.


Here are the team line-ups from Poznan where Ireland play their first match in a major tournament for 10 years:

Republic of Ireland v Croatia:

Ireland: Given, O'Shea, St. Ledger, Dunne, Ward, McGeady, Whelan, Andrews, Duff, Doyle, Keane.

Subs: Westwood, Kelly, McShane, Walters, Gibson, Hunt, O'Dea, Long, Cox, Green, McClean, Forde.

Croatia: Pletikosa, Srna, Corluka, Schildenfeld, Strinic, Vukojevic, Rakitic, Modric, Perisic, Mandzukic, Jelavic. 
Subs: Kelava, Simunic, Buljat, Pranjic, Badelj, Vrsaljko, Dujmovic, Kalinic, Kranjcar, Vida, Eduardo, Subasic.


The other match in Group C:

FT: Republic Of Ireland 1 Croatia 3

Everton striker Nikica Jelavic and a Marko Mandzukic double gave Croatia a 3-1 win against the Republic Of Ireland. 

Good start: Mandzukic gave Croatia the lead in the 3rd minute.
Cannot believe it: Croatia players and team-mates all mob Mandzukic after his goal which is the quickest since Euro 2004.

Defender Sean St. Ledger gave Ireland hope of winning a 1-1 with a header, but it was not good enough, and Ireland were dominating with dodgy and sloppy defending.

Group C Table:

1: Croatia -  3 points, 3 goals
2: Spain -  1 point, 1 goal
3: Italy - 1 point, 1 goal
4: Republic Of Ireland - 0 points, 1 goal

Day 4 of this year's Euro 2012 when in Group D, England go head-to-head with France from 17:00pm and Ukraine face Sweden at 19:45pm.