(Sporting Alert) — Mario Balotelli scored the pick of the goals for Italy in their 2-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland in their Euro 2012 Group C clash on Monday.
Watch Mario Balotelli Wonder Goal
The Manchester City forward, who was dropped to the bench for the contest in favourite of Antonio Di Natale, brilliantly hooked home a corner taken by Andrea Pirlo shortly before time for Italy to secure the victory.
AC Milan forward Antonio Cassano had opened the scoring for the Italians in the 35th minute when he headed home a cross kick corner also, aimed at the near post.
Also in the group, Spain secured their place in the quarter-finals and top spot from Group C with a 1-0 win over a determined Croatia side, which paid for not taking advantage of their early chances.
Substitute Jesus Navas scored the winner for Spain in Gdansk after Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta had done all the hard work.
Spain topped the group with seven points, two more than Italy, who finished second while Croatia’s tournament ended on four points and Ireland going home without a point.
Croatia vs Spain
Croatia: Pletikosa, Vida, Corluka, Schildenfeld, Strinic, Vukojevic, Rakitic, Srna, Modric, Pranjic, Mandzukic
Subs: Kelava, Simunic, Buljat, Jelavic, Badelj, Vrsaljko, Dujmovic, Kalinic, Kranjcar, Perisic, Eduardo, Subasic
Spain: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Alonso, Silva, Torres, Iniesta
Subs: Valdes, Albiol, Javi Martinez, Juanfran, Pedro, Fabregas, Negredo, Mata, Llorente, Santi Cazorla, Jesus Navas, Reina
Referee: Wolfgang Stark (Germany)
Italy vs Republic of Ireland
Italy: Buffon, Abate, Barzagli, Chiellini, Balzaretti, Pirlo, Marchisio, Thiago Motta, De Rossi, Di Natale, Cassano
Subs: Sirigu, Maggio, Ogbonna Obienza, Balotelli, Giaccherni, Borini, Montolivo, Bonucci, Giovinco, Diamanti, Nocerino, De Sanctis
Ireland: Given, O’Shea, Dunne, St, Ledger, Ward, McGeady, Whelan, Andrews, Duff, Keane, Doyle
Subs: Westwood, Kelly, McShane, Walters, Gibson, Hunt, O’Dea, Long, Cox, Green, McClean, Forde
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)