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Mandžukić bites back to deny Italy

Published: Thursday 14 June 2012, 21.02CET
Italy 1-1 Croatia
Mario Mandžukić found a chink in the armour of Cesare Prandelli's composed Azzurri side as Croatia battled back for a hard-earned point.
by Jim Wirth
from Municipal Stadium Poznan

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Match statistics

ItalyCroatia

Goals scored1
 
1
Possession (%)52
 
48
Total attempts15
 
10
Attempts on target7
 
8
Attempts off target8
 
2
Attempts blocked2
 
2
Attempts against woodwork0
 
0
Corners6
 
3
Offsides3
 
1
Yellow cards2
 
1
Red Cards0
 
0
Fouls committed15
 
22
Fouls suffered18
 
14

Standings

Last updated: 12/02/2013 17:13 CET

Legend:

P: Played   
Pts: Points   
 
Published: Thursday 14 June 2012, 21.02CET

Mandžukić bites back to deny Italy

Italy 1-1 Croatia
Mario Mandžukić found a chink in the armour of Cesare Prandelli's composed Azzurri side as Croatia battled back for a hard-earned point.

The plot thickened in Group C as Mario Mandžukić fired in a 72nd-minute equaliser, just as Italy looked to have squeezed the life out of their UEFA EURO 2012 meeting in Poznan.

Having effectively stifled their opponents, Andrea Pirlo contributed one of the goals of the tournament to put Italy in front six minutes before the break, but a tactical switch breathed some fire back into Slaven Bilić's men, and having levelled the scores, they gave Spain a warning of the kind of physical test they can expect in their final group encounter in Gdansk.

With neither side making any changes from the starting lineups they deployed in their opening fixtures, it seemed fair to say that both coaches had been happy with their UEFA EURO 2012 performance so far. Yet while Croatia's front pairing of Mandžukić and Nikica Jelavić had bludgeoned the Republic of Ireland into submission on Sunday, they did not find it so easy to smash the locks off a more canny Italian defensive unit.

Indeed, that powerful pair were to see little action before the break, with Mario Balotelli signalling his intent early on with a turn and a shot which darted wide. Claudio Marchisio then sent a missile of an effort over the bar, before Balotelli fired straight at the goalkeeper when the ball broke for him in the penalty box. Croatia's corresponding chances were snatched and squeezed rather than hit with real conviction, Gianluigi Buffon's only real save of note coming from a 27th-minute corner, which Ivan Perišić generously nodded straight at him.

With Croatia looking increasingly stretched in defence, you could feel a goal coming. Antonio Cassano might have scored it on 33 minutes when he pulled a shot across the face of goal from a tight angle, and Marchisio will wonder how his name was not the first on the scoresheet after he spun into space only to have one effort brilliantly saved by Stipe Pletikosa, with the goalkeeper scrambling gamely to block again at the Juventus midfielder's feet.

As it was, Pirlo upstaged them all to score Italy’s 200th goal in all UEFA European Championship games, lining up a 39th-minute free-kick out on the right which dipped neatly over the wall and inside Pletikosa's right-hand post before the goalkeeper could get an outstretched glove to it.

Rising to the challenge after the break, with a rejig from 4-4-2 to 4-2-3-1, Croatia gained a little more leverage, and Luka Modrić made sure that Buffon was awake with a a near-miss from distance. Balotelli then responded in kind with a similar effort at the other end just after the hour – a sign, perhaps, that Cesare Prandelli's side had once more got their opponents' number.

It was a shock, then, when Mandžukić suddenly materialised inside the box to smash a hopeful-looking Ivan Strinić cross in off the far post with 18 minutes to go. It was the VfL Wolfsburg man's third goal of the tournament and having been kept muzzled for so much of the game, Bilić's side snapped and slavered for more. However, having been punished for their only real defensive lapse of the game, the Azzurri held firm, and will look to avoid a third 1-1 draw when they meet the Irish back here in Poznan in four days' time.

Last updated: 26/10/12 14.13CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/season=2012/matches/round=15172/match=2003331/postmatch/report/index.html#mandzukic+denies+italy

Quotes

  • Cesare Prandelli

    Read more"Of course we are a bit annoyed because a side that plays football and creates chances needs to kill off the game"

  • Slaven Bilić

    Read more"The whole nation was not expecting this and we still have a chance to go through this very difficult group"

Lineups

Italy

Italy

Croatia

Croatia

1
BuffonGianluigi Buffon (GK) (C)
1
PletikosaStipe Pletikosa (GK)
2
MaggioChristian Maggio
2
StrinićIvan Strinić
3
ChielliniGiorgio Chiellini
5
ČorlukaVedran Ćorluka
5
Thiago MottaThiago Motta
Yellow Card56
Substitution62
7
RakitićIvan Rakitić
8
MarchisioClaudio Marchisio
8
VukojevićOgnjen Vukojević
9
BalotelliMario Balotelli
Substitution69
9
JelavićNikica Jelavić
Substitution83
10
CassanoAntonio Cassano
Substitution83
10
ModrićLuka Modrić
13
GiaccheriniEmanuele Giaccherini
11
SrnaDarijo Srna (C)
16
De RossiDaniele De Rossi
13
SchildenfeldGordon Schildenfeld
Yellow Card86
19
BonucciLeonardo Bonucci
17
MandžukićMario Mandžukić
Goal72
Substitution90+4
21
PirloAndrea Pirlo
Goal39
20
PerišićIvan Perišić
Substitution68

Substitutes

12
SiriguSalvatore Sirigu (GK)
12
KelavaIvan Kelava (GK)
14
De SanctisMorgan De Sanctis (GK)
23
SubašićDanijel Subašić (GK)
4
OgbonnaAngelo Ogbonna
3
ŠimunićJosip Šimunić
6
BalzarettiFederico Balzaretti
4
BuljatJurica Buljat
7
AbateIgnazio Abate
6
PranjićDanijel Pranjić
Substitution68
11
Di NataleAntonio Di Natale
Substitution69
14
BadeljMilan Badelj
15
BarzagliAndrea Barzagli
15
VrsaljkoŠime Vrsaljko
17
BoriniFabio Borini
16
DujmovićTomislav Dujmović
18
MontolivoRiccardo Montolivo
Substitution62
Yellow Card80
18
N. KalinićNikola Kalinić
20
GiovincoSebastian Giovinco
Substitution83
19
KranjčarNiko Kranjčar
Substitution90+4
22
DiamantiAlessandro Diamanti
21
VidaDomagoj Vida
23
NocerinoAntonio Nocerino
22
EduardoEduardo
Substitution83

Coach

Cesare Prandelli (ITA) Slaven Bilić (CRO)

Referee

Howard Webb (ENG)

Assistant referees

Michael Mullarkey (ENG), Peter Kirkup (ENG)

Fourth official

Pavel Královec (CZE)

Additional assistant referees

Martin Atkinson (ENG), Mark Clattenburg (ENG)

Legend:

  • GoalsGoals
  • Own goalOwn goal
  • PenaltiesPenalties
  • Missed PenaltiesMissed Penalties
  • reds_cardRed Cards
  • yellow_cardsYellow cards
  • yellow_red_cardsYellow/red card
  • SubstitutionSubstitution
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