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Italy Reach Euro Last Eight Again
The Azzurri know their victory is not enough, their qualification to the last eight also need to rely on a match in Gdansk. In the 35th minute, Antonio Cassano's penalty kicks helped Cesare Prandelli's side heading in Andrea Pirlo's corner. And in the other game JesÃºs Navas broke through the net in the last moment, so the big score draw that Italian worried would not happen. During the second half, Mario Balotelli insured Italy ranked 2 in Group by 3 points.
Italy felt much pressed, but Ireland presented more energetic in the beginning. Giovanni Trapattoni's squad conceded early goals in the last two games while this time Kevin Doyle get the opportunity to kick-off in 10 seconds which was soon disturbed before he completed action. Ireland were looking pretty dynamic and impressed their fans. After a fierce beginning, Ireland kept on searching chances till Doyle's header was blocked.
However, Italy unloaded their burden very early and more important is that Cassano started to come into the game, it was Sean St Ledger that soon nimbly blocked a shot from him; following Cassano released Antonio Di Natale, while the latter skipped round Shay Given to see his effort from an acute angle also defused by Sean St Ledger.
Cassano's another shot saved by Shay Given which resulted in Pirlo taking the corner kick. The AC Milan forward glanced in Pirlo's flat delivery with the Ireland captain for the day, Damien Duff, unable to hack it clear in time from his station on the back post.
Croatia 0 â€“ 0 Spain at the ends of half time, if holding the zero point, Italy might have chance to be the top in Group. Federico Balzaretti and Cassano created opportunity by consecutive passes, but the chance was soon blocked by Richard Dunne's sudden breaking in. Even so, Ireland hadn't given up, their ploy of getting wide and supplying crosses always looked like it could produce goals and threaten opponent.
Italy started to fall back the same as the game against Croatia. When the game was proceeding 1 hour, Giorgio Chiellini's hurt affected every Italian's nerves. Actually Italy's pressure on the Azzurri goal quickly increased with Cassano's replacement. Ireland restarted their attack that St Ledger headed over and Gianluigi Buffon saved a low goalbound shot around the post kicked by Keith Andrews.
However, the news spread that Spain scored a goal and Italy signed with relief finally. At the last moment, Andrews was fouled out for a second yellow card. Italy soon took the initiative, in the 90th second, Balotelli converted Alessandro Diamanti's corner and made certain 3 points for Italy. Ireland only got three losses in their fist Euro appearance since 1988 and Italy kept unbeaten and reached the last eight.