As it happened, Euro 2012: Spain held by Italy; Croatia’s attack impresses

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Day three of Euro 2012 sees the holders and defending world champions Spain kick things off against four time world champion Italy. First whistle is at 12:00 p.m. ET on ESPN, with Ireland and Croatia rounding out Group C’s day at 2:45 p.m. ET.

As we did on days one and two, we’ll be trying to keep you up to date here. Refresh this page to get updates on scores and major events. We’ll also have match reports and our daily review later on Sunday.

For now, here’s some catch up reading material:

And now that you’re through skipping over the bullets, here’s Sunday’s action:


(all times Eastern)

1342 – Croatia 3-1 Ireland – Seeing his defense struggle over the last 15 minutes may have ruined Slaven Bilic’s day, but he got what he wanted. Croatia won, won easily, and were convincing while doing so. They sit atop Group C.

1332 – Croatia 3-1 Ireland – As good a Croatia has been going forward, their central defense is scary. Ireland’s been able to pump crosses in over the last 10-or-so minutes, with the likes of Damien Duff at times able to get on the end of them. Stipe Pletikosa has been mildly tested a couple of times.

Mario Mandzukic has had to come off. He was injured during an aerial challenge with Sean St. Ledger. Eduardo is replacing him.

1319 – Croatia 3-1 Ireland – Trappatoni uses his final substitution. Robbie Keane is off. Shane Long is on.

EPLFAN: BUT WHAT ABOUT MCLEAN!?!?!!?

1316 – Croatia 3-1 Ireland – Croatia’s going into preservation mode, which means Nikica Jelavic is off. Niko Kjancar is on, and the team looks set to play more 4-4-1-1 than the 4-4-2 (4-1-3-2) they’ve been using.

1307 – Croatia 3-1 Ireland – Whether it’s the substitutions or a change in approach from Croatia, Ireland’s been better over the last 10 minutes. The last moments, however, have been dominated by the crowd booing as Ireland plays on with Mandzukic down in the other half. Eventually, Ireland give up the ball after Robbie Keane’s penalty shout is denied, Schlidenfeld having gone through the back of him.

1258 – Croatia 3-1 Ireland – Giovanni Trappatoni’s first changes. Kevin Doyle, Ireland’s best player so far, comes off. John Walters comes on. Aiden McGeady comes off, and much to the chagrin of every Premier League fan that’s adopted James McClean as a hidden gem, Simon Cox comes on.

1253 – Croatia 3-1 Ireland – Another Mario Mandzukic headed goal to open the half has Croatia up 3-1. A ball swung in from the left sees Mandzukic nine yards from goal rise to redirect it to the right post. The ball isn’t hit that hard, but it nails the posts, bounces of and finds Shay Given’s head, going in.

It should end up as an own goal that isn’t. Perisic and Mandzukic made that goal.

1251 – Croatia 2-1 Ireland – Second half has started with Ireland going from right to left.

1549 – Croatia 2-1 Ireland, Halftime – Stats: Possession: Croatia 58-42; Shots: Croatia 9-5; Shots on target: Croatia 5-3.

1535 – Croatia 2-1 Ireland, Halftime – When Croatia strings together those one-touch passes, they leaving Ireland standing in mud (particularly given how much rain is reportedly falling). Just before the half closes, a series of passes from Schlidenfeld, to Strinic, to Maddzukic, to Perisic, to Jelavic and behind the defense to Perisic leads to a cross for Rakitic. He puts it over the cross bar, but Croatia had Ireland bent out of shape.

It’s halftime, now. Croatia’s goals were a bit fortunate, but they’re controlled the match and are deserved leaders.

1530 – Croatia 2-1 Ireland – Another goal for Croatia from the second ball in off a corner. Darijo Srna plays it in, headed out by Ireland to Strinic, who plays across for Modric. He moves past one man then shoots into a crowd, the ball coming out the other end of Nikica Jelavic. He chips over an oncoming Given for a fortunate goal, restoring Croatia’s lead.

1520 – Croatia 1-1 Ireland – Croatia has had most of the possession, but Ireland’s been relentless, giving them little time on the ball when it’s in their half. Croatia seems to be able to use the right flank whenever they want, with Ivan Rakitic coming in to give Darijo Srna room to burst forward.

For the Irish, their chances center around playing the ball to Kevin Doyle and waiting for him to draw a foul. Which has worked. The referee has a quick whistle.

1505 – Croatia 1-1 Ireland – Kevin Doyle’s hard work does draw a foul on Vedran Corluka. Aiden McGeady puts a great to the far post that Sean St. Ledger puts home for the equalizer. What a terrible sequence for Corluka.

There’s something very strange going on. Somebody in the crowd has a very prominent whistle that’s being blown at every restart. It’s pitch is very close to the official’s. It’s annoying, and in the post-goal commentary there was brief speculation that the whistle that blew right after McGeady’s restart could have been a factor.

1450 – Croatia 1-0 Ireland – Horror start for Shay Given and Ireland. The second play off a corner kick sees Darijo Srna chip a ball back from the line. Mario Mandzukic is 14 yards out and get a soft header toward the right post, but Given’s off-balance, moving the wrong way. No way this ball shot go in, but Given doesn’t get a touch on it. Ireland’s down early.

1447 – Croatia 0-0 Ireland – We are off with Croatia kicking off, going right to left.

1435 – Lineups for the game that starts in 10 minutes:

Croatia: Pletikosa, Strinić, Ćorluka, Schildenfeld, Rakitić, Vukojević, Modrić, Srna, Perišić, Jelavić, Mandžukić SUBS: Kelava, Subašić, Šimunić, Buljat, Vrsaljko, Vida, Pranjić, Badelj, Dujmović, Kranjčar, Kalinić, Eduardo.

Ireland: Given, St Ledger, Ward, O’Shea, Dunne, Whelan, McGeady, Andrews, Duff, Doyle, Keane SUBS: Westwood, Forde, Kelly, McShane, O’Dea, Gibson, Hunt, Green, McClean, Walters, Long, Cox.

Interesting the Croatia’s Darijo Srna looks set to start at right back. He plays there for club but rarely for country, but against a set-in Ireland, Slaven Bilic seems ready to be agressive. Sevilla’s Ivan Rakitic has also gotten the call. They’ll play 4-4-2 with Vukojevic holding.

Ireland’s team is as expected. They’ll play 4-4-1-1.

1429 – Here’s the Offshore Drilling recap of Italy’s draw with Spain.

1350 – Spain 1-1 Italy, Final – Full time, and a very good performance from Italy gets a deserved point. Spain didn’t play poorly, but they could have done more, and some strange choices from Vicente Del Bosque saw little justification.

The next game starts at 2:45 p.m. Eastern. I’m off to write the Offshore drilling for the match. Be back soon.

1344 – Spain 1-1 Italy – Torres has been fun. Three times he’s been put behind the line or in on goal. Three times he doesn’t even get a shot on target. And, he’s picked up a card.

1335 – Spain 1-1 Italy – Five minutes ago, Fernando Torres came on for Cesc Fabregas. That means the goal scorer and the man who provided it are off for Spain.

Giorgio Chiellini just picked up a yellow for taking down Andres Iniesta at the edge of the area.

1321 – Spain 1-1 Italy – Quick response. Andrea Iniesta plays a ball to David Silva, back to goal 20 yards out. Rather than give it back, Silva turns and sees Cesc Fabregas coming in from the right. He feeds him, and Cesc blasts it into goal. We’re even.

Curiously, two subs immediately come on. Jesus Navas replaces David Silva in a move that should probably have been put off. Sebastian Giovinco replaces Antonio Cassano for Italy.

1318 – Spain 0-1 Italy – At halftime we asked which would pay off first: Spain’s possession or Italy’s isolated chances. If you read the score, you obviously know.

Andrea Pirlo picks up a ball inside Italy’s half and burst forward, beating Sergio Busquets easily. A ball played behind a high Spain line sees Di Natale beat Gerard Pique. As Casillas comes out, Toto has an open goal, and he buries it into the right of goal.

1312 – Spain 0-0 Italy – After Spain opens the half with a couple of cracks on goal, Mario Balotelli creates and blows a spectacular chance. A ball punted out of Italy’s end down their right leads to an aerial battle between Balotelli and Ramos, and when it seems Ramos is really to control, Balotelli steps in, wins the ball, and discarding Ramos, charges toward goal. He has 35 yards to decide what to do. His choice: Slow up so much that he allows Ramos to make up the ground and re-win the ball.

Minutes later, Cesare Prandellis takes Balotelli off, bringing on Antonio Di Natale.

1302 – Spain 0-0 Italy – No changes as Italy kicks off to start the second half.

1259 – Spain 0-0 Italy, Halftime – Stats: Possession: Spain 57-43; Shots: Spain 7-6; Shots on target: Spain 5-4. Note UEFA counts blocked shots as shots on target. Three of Spain’s shots were blocked. None of Italy’s were blocked.

1247 – Spain 0-0 Italy, Halftime – A very interesting first half, though we go to break scoreless. Spain took half of the period to figure out the Italians and still have not developed a winning plan, yet they seems to have something going through Andres Iniesta on the left. They’re often brining David Silva off his wing to support on that side.

Italy is working almost everything through Antonio Cassano, who was responsible for creating five good chances for himself and others (two shots by him, one drawn foul deep in Spain’s end, three chances created for others).

Based on the first half, you’d say Spain’s slightly more likely to break through in the second, yet Italy generated the better chances in the first half. Spain better figure this out before Italy takes it from them.

1242 – Spain 0-0 Italy – Spain has almost exclusively attacked down the left, leaving Giorgio Chiellini with little to do. That gives him the freedom, though, to take some chances coming off the line. Here, he comes high into midfield and wins a ball targeting Sergio Busquets. Moments later David Silva plays a ball behind Daniele de Rossi for Cesc Fabregas, making a run from the left behind the defense. Leonardo Bonucci does a great job of reading the play and gets across for a block. Seconds after that, Xavi knifes a ball for Iniesta, whose first touch tries to catch Buffon off his line. Ball goes over and out.

1237 – Spain 0-0 Italy – Mario Balotelli picks up the first yellow card of the nice for persistent infringement (or something like that). Obviously, he’s not the guy you want carrying a yellow. In the interim, Spain’s still looking like they’re on the very of clicking, but Italy, in isolation, are creating the beter chances. The last was created when Antonio Cassano went wide left, took on Alvaro Arbeloa, got a ball bak to the to of the arc for Claudio Marchisio, who one-timed it right at Iker Casillas.

1227 – Spain 0-0 Italy – Somewhere in the last few minutes, Spain seems to have figured something out. They seem to be intuiting what spaces will be open, where to feed passes into Italy’s defense. They’re playing David Silva (in from the right) on the left more often, creating a numerical “advantage” on Christian Maggio-Leonardo Bonucci’s side. Andres Iniesta’s been at the center of it all.

1223 – Spain 0-0 Italy – Italy’s held more of the ball over the last five minute, and after creating a turnover along the left, see Claudio Marchisio feed a nice ball into the right channel for Antonio Cassano. Cassano goes far post and misses by a yard as Mario Balotelli is just a bit late.

1218 – Spain 0-0 Italy – Through the first 17 minutes, Spain’s held most of the ball but haven’t bothered Buffon. Italy’s had the best chance, drawing a foul from Sergio Ramos inside the arc that gave Andrea Pirlo a chance at goal. Iker Casillas easily dealt with a ball at the lower left corner.

1201 – Spain 0-0 Italy – Group C has begun.

1200 – Teams are on the field, and we’re in the final moments before kickoff. The commentary teams utters an interesting piece of speculation, asking if Spain’s lineup is in response to Italy’s shift. In other words, would Fernando Torres be starting if Italy didn’t switch to 3-5-2?

1122 – Lineups for the first game between Spain and Italy, courtesy UEFA:

Italy: Buffon, Maggio, Chiellini, Bonucci, Motta, Marchisio, Giaccherini, De Rossi, Pirlo, Balotelli, Cassano SUBS: Sirigu, De Sanctis, Ogbonna, Balzaretti, Abate, Barzagli, Montolivo, Diamanti, Nocerino, Di Natale, Borini, Giovinco.

Spain: Casillas, Piqué, Ramos, Arbeloa, Alba, Iniesta, Xavi, Fàbregas, Alonso, Busquets, Silva SUBS: Valdés, Reina, Albiol, Martínez, Juanfran, Cazorla, Navas, Rodríguez, Torres, Negredo, Mata, Llorente.

Thiago Motta is preferred over Ricardo Montolivo in Italy’s midfield. It’s not a complete surprise, though it has implications on where exactly Andrea Pirlo will be used. The Azzurri do look set to go 3-5-2, with De Rossie flanked by Chiellini and Bonucci.

Spain’s big news? Fernando Torres doesn’t crack the starting XI. Instead, Vicente del Bosque has Cesc Fabregas in the starting XI. I feel like saying something like “Spain’s taking this false nine business to a new level, seemingly intent on playing a series of false 10s,” but do I even want to be flippant with tactics jargon? It all seems so crass.

1120 – My picks for today: Spain (2-0) and Croatia (1-0).

ProSoccerTalk is doing its best to keep you up to date on what’s going on in Poland and Ukraine. Check out the site’s Euro 2012 page and look at the site’s previews, predictions, and coverage of all the events defining UEFA’s championship.

MLS Snapshot: POR carve up 9-man ORL, keep pace with VAN, SKC

Pete Christopher//The Oregonian via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): All of a sudden, the Western Conference has sprung to life as the 2017 regular season winds down — Vancouver Whitecaps, winners of five of their last seven games (unbeaten); Portland Timbers, winners of four of their last six following Sunday’s 3-0 victory over 10-man nine-man Orlando City SC at Providence Park; Sporting Kansas City, losers of just two of their last 15 games; Seattle Sounders, who had their 13-game unbeaten run snapped on Saturday; and Real Salt Lake, winners of four of their last five. With fewer than a handful of games remaining, Vancouver’s lead on Portland and Sporting KC remains one point after all three sides won this weekend; RSL and Seattle are separated by just three points, three points back of second and third. As for Saturday’s game, Diego Valeri is now a top-two candidate for MVP after scoring two more goals (his 19th and 20th, to go with 9 assists) against 10-man Orlando.

[ MORE: TFC’s Shield celebration delayed | RSL end Seattle’s run at 13 ]

Three moments that mattered

15′ — Valeri extends his streak, makes it 1-0 — The last time Valeri failed to score in a game, the date was July 23.

29′ — Mattocks taps it home after Asprilla’s cross — Huge credit to Diego Chara for the through ball to spring Dairon Asprilla into acres of space. The ball to Mattocks was simple, and he got it right.

59′ — Valeri gets no. 20, makes it 3-0 — Joe Bendik managed to deny Mattocks’ initial effort, but Valeri followed up when everyone in white had already quit on the play.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Diego Valeri

Goalscorers: Valeri (15′ – PK, 59′), Mattocks (29′)

The 2 Robbies: City Sparkle, Chelsea Shine, Liverpool Hold On

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe take a look at some of the weekend’s biggest storylines, including Liverpool’s thrilling victory over Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur’s frantic win away to West Ham United and Manchester City’s demolition of Crystal Palace.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Ederson harbors no ill will after Mane’s personal apology

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As far as Ederson is concerned, Sadio Mane‘s studs-to-face assault is a thing of the past — save for, the elongated scar he’ll likely wear on the left side of his face for the rest of his life, of course.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Goals galore on a wild Saturday ]

The Manchester City goalkeeper, who was forced from his side’s 5-0 victory over Liverpool on Sept. 9 after his face was raked by the studs of the Reds’ star attacker, revealed this weekend that he received — and accepted — Mane’s personal apology in the days immediately thereafter — quotes from Goal.com:

“Yes, I had contact with him, he sent me a message. I told him to stay calm, those things happen inside the pitch, it could happen anytime. I told him to not worry and wished him a good season.”

“I ended up having a hard hit in the face, but in the same week, I was ready to play in Champions League. I felt a strong kick, but I was always conscious. I knew it had been a long cut. I wanted to keep playing but, for medical issues, I couldn’t keep playing.

“But I was always conscious, even if I had my face a little bit swollen. But after a week it was normal again. In the same week, I was ready to play in Champions League. I faced that game full of confidence again, without any fear and happy for the result we achieved.”

Bundesliga: Leverkusen throttle HSV; Hannover remain unbeaten

Marius Becker/dpa via AP
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BERLIN (AP) Three days after being cleared to play by FIFA, Argentine striker Lucas Alario scored one goal and set up another on his debut for Bayer Leverkusen to beat Hamburger SV 3-0 in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

Alario struck midway through the first half, converting a cross from Leon Bailey, who also set up Kevin Volland’s opening goal just three minutes before.

A moment of class from Julian Brandt sent Alario through with less than 10 minutes remaining, and the Argentine had the awareness to spot the better-positioned Volland to seal the win.

Alario went off moments later to warm applause from fans.

“The goal is the cream on top. He played very well, scored the goal and combined with others. He worked well coming back and his first goal wasn’t so easy to score,” Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich said.

Alario’s first appearance for Leverkusen was held up when previous club River Plate objected to his transfer through the Argentine soccer association (AFA), which denied his playing rights.

The Buenos Aires-based club contended that Alario’s transfer was invalid as Leverkusen paid his release clause of $28.6 million on Aug. 31, after the Argentine season began, which it said was against FIFA rules.

Leverkusen then took the case to FIFA, which ruled in its favor on Thursday.

Leverkusen’s second win in six games eased the pressure on new coach Herrlich after a difficult start.

Counterpart Markus Gisdol remains in need of a change in fortune, however, after four straight defeats. Hamburg next faces Werder Bremen, Mainz and Bayern Munich.


Cologne fought its way to its first point in a 0-0 draw at promoted Hannover after starting the Bundesliga with five straight defeats.

Now the last-place side hopes it can build on the point.

“The luck will come back and the chances we had today will go in,” Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn said. “We’ll start winning the games again. But the precondition was this performance that we delivered today.”

Peter Stoeger’s side, which has scored only one goal all season, hasn’t netted in its last four league games. That highlighted the extent to which Cologne relied on French striker Anthony Modeste, sold in the offseason in a big-money move to Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian.

Modeste scored 25 Bundesliga goals for Cologne last season. His replacement, former Mainz striker Jhon Cordoba, is yet to score in six games.

“We all have to be satisfied with the draw,” said Hannover general manager Horst Heldt, whose fourth-place side remains one of three unbeaten in the Bundesliga this season.

Hannover coach Andre Breitenreiter remained unbeaten in 15 games across two divisions.