Goals: Pirlo (39’), Mandžukić (72’)
Italy Lineup: Buffon, Bonucci, De Rossi, Chiellini, Maggio, Marchisio, Pirlo, Giaccherni, Thiago Motta, Balotelli, Cassano
Substitute(s): Montolivo for Thiago Motta (63’), Di Natale for Balotelli (70’), Giovinco for Cassano (83’)
Croatia Lineup: Pletikosa, Ćorluka , Srna, Schildenfeld, Strinić, Rakitić, Vukojević, Modrić, Perišić, Jelavić, Mandžukić
Substitute(s): Pranjić for Perišić (68’), Eduardo for Jelavić (83’), Niko Kranjčar for Mandžukić (94’)
We had a very eventful first half, with much of the possession and chances going to Italy. Pirlo finally scored off a free kick just outside the box about seven minutes before half, and the Italians finally got the key breakthrough in a game where they really do need to win. They should, and have to advantage going into the second half.
Whistle blows and the second half begins!
Good start to the second half for Croatia as Modrić has his shot saved by Buffon. Let’s hope they keep that up.
Good last five minutes for Croatia, with a few corners and shots flying in. The game has definitely opened up.
Balotelli unleashes one…just over the bar. Close. Di Natale should probably be coming on for him soon if the last game was an indication of future Italian substitution plans.
A few substitutions fly in here, Di Natale for Balotelli being one of them. Croatia are getting a few good chance, but nothing that is seriously troubling the Italian back line, or Buffon. 20 minutes to go here.
THERE’S THE GOAL FOR CROATIA! Mandžukić has collected the ball at the back post and fired one hard, off the post and in. Great cross from a player I have unfortunately not been able to pick out as play continues, but that was huge.
Now, can Italy respond? A win is their optimal result, but a draw wouldn’t be disastrous. If Croatia finds a winner though, Italy will be all but out of this competition.
This looks like a game that will only be won by Croatia at the moment. Italy needs something to switch this game around. Croatia looks like an entirely different team this half. Ten minutes to go.
Five minutes left, and Italy have a set piece opportunity. Pirlo on it…and it’s headed out by Croatia. Italy didn’t even get a head to it.
A pair of victories from Italy and Spain in their last group matches would send them both through to the quarterfinals if this game ends in a draw. Definitely looking that way as it stands.
Five minutes of added time here. Nervy stuff for both sides…reminder that a Croatia victory guarantees them a spot in the quarterfinals.
You feel as though there will be one more good chance in this game. Italy back line is defending very well at the moment. Three to go.
Free kick given to Italy. A big chance for Pirlo to swing in another one. Italy need to get ahead to this ball. There’s a stoppage for a Croatian substitution due to an injury.
The delivery is poor. Knocked out easily and the pressure is relieved. Ninety seconds.
GAME ENDS! 1-1. Italy left needing a win against Ireland on Monday, with Croatia having a huge opportunity against Spain as well.
I’d have to say that Andrea Pirlo is our star player of the day for Italy. Great free kick goal, the first one we’ve seen this tournament. Great job holding the midfield as always.
For Croatia, how about Pletikosa? He made a HUGE double save in the first half and denied Italy when it counted. He was relieved of a lot of pressure in the second half, but he could only allow one if Croatia wanted to get anything out of this game.
Can’t think of too many flop moments in this game, but Chiellini should have done a lot better about the cross that led to the Croatia goal. He’s still a world class central defender, but he shouldn’t have allowed Mandžukić a chance to score.
As we look ahead, we see that Italy absolutely have to win their last game, unless something remarkable happens in this upcoming Spain vs. Ireland game. Croatia on the other hand, can probably get a draw and get through, but that will be a tall order against Spain, the favorites to win the group. It should be a very interesting last day in Group C for sure. Can’t wait for Monday!