Italy are through to the knockout rounds of Euro 2012 after beating Ireland 2-0 and seeing Spain knock off Croatia. They went into the match knowing that they'd need Spain's help, but they got it and fulfilled their end of the bargain - just. Ireland, who were rolled over by both other teams in the group, kept it very close for most of the match, going 1-0 down in the 35th minute thanks to an Antonio Cassano header but keeping the draw within reach until the very last minute.
It's fortunate, perhaps, that Mario Balotelli scored when he did, because otherwise there'd have been very little to talk about in the second half. Keith Andrews hit a shot than Gianluigi Buffon did well to save, which was interesting, but not nearly so interesting as the Manchester City striker's acrobatic finish from a corner that came just seconds after Andrews got himself sent off with a second yellow card. Balotelli's goal meant that Italy could breathe - they weren't playing well and it looked like Ireland might have had an equaliser in them, but at 2-0 their position in the match was secure.
Getting through group C wasn't easy, and although Italy weren't at their best, they did enough.