Italy cruised into the knockout stages of the Euro Cup 2012 after they beat Republic of Ireland 2-0 in their last league match. Ireland, who were eliminated even before the kick-off and were playing for pride, bowed out of the tournament pointless.
The teams started well and looked evenly matched before a goal by Antonio Cassano scored off a corner and after change of ends Mario Balotelli scored his first goal of the tournament to seal Ireland’s fate.
Here are hits and flops of the match:
Mario Balotelli: Coach Giovanni Trapattoni did not want to risk him due to his training injury which saw Balotelli start the match on the bench. But then when Italy were finding it difficult to create openings in the second half, the striker was however sent in a replacement to Antonio Di Natale. Things changed as soon as he came on the pitch and stated finding space and made threatening runs. His hard work finally paid off and his overhead kick which found the nets is arguably the best goal of the tournament.
Andrea Pirlo: Pirlo is one of the best players when it comes to set piece delivery and he was phenomenal throughout. He was not only accurate with his corner that was headed in by Cassano, but his passes were also immaculate throughout the match.
Allesandro Dimianti: He came in as a replacement to Cassano and his only contribution was the assist for Balotelli’s goal. Barring that he was anonymous in the match.
Richard Dunne: He was the best player of the match and was terrific in air. He won many aerial battles in the opposition penalty box but unfortunately for him that he could not score a goal. He cleared many a times to avert danger.
Sean St. Ledger: Sean, who is only scorer for the Ireland in the tournament, had a good game. The Leicester defender did what he could and tried to hang on an avoided danger on many occasions.
Robbie Keane: It was his last Euro Cup match for sure and the striker failed to live up to the expectations again. Lot was expected of the star Irish striker who has scored 53 international goals, but he ended the tournament goalless.
Glenn Whelan: He was woeful when it came down to passing and missed his mark with conviction. He never could create any openings and lost battles to Daniele de Rossi easily.
By Indian Sports News Network