Euro 2012: Croatia hold Italy to a 1-1 draw


Things are getting complicated in Group C as Mario Mandžukić bagged a 72nd-minute equalizer for Croatia, just as Italy seemed to have their hands on the three points. Andrea Pirlo scored one of the most beautiful goals of the tournament to put Italy in front six minutes before the half time, but Croatia fought back after the interval and levelled the scores with 18 minutes remaining.

Italy had the better first half as Croatia rarely found their way past Prandelli's sturdy defence. Mario Balotelli had an early chance as he turner and fired wide while Claudio Marchisio tried his luck with a powerful effort that went over the bar. Then Balotelli had a much better chance but he shot straight at the goalkeeper from inside the the penalty box. Antonio Cassano had another good opportunity on 33 minutes when he fired across the face of goal with Marchisio's close range effort saved miraculously by Stipe Pletikosa. Pirlo scored the deserved goal, Italy's 200th goal in all UEFA European Championship games, with a pinpoint 39th-minute free-kick from out on the right wing.

Croatia switched to a 4-2-3-1 module after the break and it paid off as they gained more opportunities upfront. Luka Modrić tried his luck from distance and didn't go far, then Balotelli then responded with a similar effort. Italy seemed in control though but Mandžukić spoiled it for Prandelli's men as he smashed in a cross from Ivan Strinić with 18 minutes to go. It was his third goal of the tournament and one that brings a vital point to Croatia who have 4 points and could qualify with a draw against Spain in the last group match. As for Italy, they have recorded two consecutive 1-1 draws and will have to beat Ireland in the last match if they want to pull through.

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