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Euro 2012: Spain, Italy advance to quarterfinals

Spain Croatia (Getty Images)


They suffered a few scares and needed a few clutch saves from Iker Casillas, but Spain eventually defeated Croatia en route to advancing to the Euro 2012 quarterfinals.

Spain kept their dreams of repeating as European champions alive on Monday with a 1-0 victory over Croatia that was more difficult than some would have imagined. The Croats had a handful of opportunities to take the lead and secure their advancement, but Casillas came up big to deny them and Jesus Navas scored a late goal to end Croatia's hopes of reaching the knockout phase.

Ivan Rakitic had one of the best chances for Croatia, but his low header in the 59th minute was parried away brilliantly by Casillas. The underdogs kept pushing for a goal after that chance, but that came back to bite them as Andres Iniesta got in behind the defense and hit a pass to a wide open Navas in front of goal.

The result saw the Spaniards win Group C on seven points while Croatia finished with four points and was eliminated after finishing in third. Spain will take on the runner-up in Group D in the quarterfinals on June 23.

In the other Group C match on Monday:


Playing an already-eliminated Ireland, Italy advanced to the next round of the tournament with a 2-0 victory that included a beautiful striker from Balotelli.

Balotelli knocked in a turning volley with his back to goal in second-half stoppage time of the Italians' win over Ireland, which finished the tournament with three losses and nine goals given up. Balotelli's splendid strike came nearly an hour after Antonio Cassano scored the winner in the first half.

Italy finished second in Group C with five points. The Azzurri will battle the first-place finishers from Group D in the quarterfinals on June 24.


What do you think of Spain's 1-0 win over Croatia? Think Italy will get past the quarterfinals? How many times have you watched that Balotelli goal?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Josh, I initially had the same reaction as you. But the Laws of the Game state “A player is in an offside position if:

    – he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent.” There’s no question in my mind that Navas was nearer to his opponents’ goal line than the second-last opponent, but there’s a legitimate argument that at the moment of the pass he was behind the ball. But I think Croatia had a couple of legitimate shouts for a penalty kick earlier.

  2. There is only one thing a good team with a good midfield line, a good back line and good forwards can improve: to have a good goalkeeper.
    In fact I think Casillas has saved his current football team for Spanish league, Real Madrid, in many many occasions as well.
    He can save matches but not win them. Spain used to play fine and lose, and now, at least, quite often is the opposite. First round in a championship like this is always very dangerous (ask Holland). The important think is to go through. Spain will improve their performances, I am pretty sure.

  3. Also, 0-0 would have had Croatia going out – unfortunately in my book. Would’ve loved to watch several of their players (Modric obviously included) go on. Also, would be nice if they’d cross the groups for the knockouts but ah well…they’re tournament.

  4. Navas was offside when the ball was passed to Iniesta. But Iniesta wasn’t. Check the rulebook. And he was behind the ball when he received Iniesta’s pass.

  5. Croatia was robbed. Navas was clearly offside (and of course that clown Lalas claimed that he was “totally” onside) on Spain’s goal.

    I’m not going to say the fix was in–them’s the breaks sometimes–but Croatia deserved better.

  6. This really has been a pretty close tournament so far. I mean look at the teams you have going home. The Sweden England game was awesome, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Netherlands, etc.

    BTW, I married into a off the boat Portuguese family (I’m italian american) and I am quite impressed with the size of the country and the quantity and quality they produced. Even 6 million people less then Netherlands. I wonder why we don’t look more to see what they are doing instead of examining France and England.

  7. One of the best goal celebrations ever… an Italian teammate clutching his hand over Balotelli’s mouth. Priceless. Cassano was awesome today. I was also really impressed with Croatia. It’s a shame that they didn’t get through. In the end though, I think the Italians deserved it.


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