Mario Mandzukic's second-half equaliser earned Croatia a vital draw against Italy to leave Group C wide open.

Croatia knew three points in Poznan would clinch their last-eight spot following an impressive opening 3-1 win against Republic of Ireland.

Player comparison between Mandzukic and Balotelli

The Italians appeared in total control after taking the lead through Andrea Pirlo's wonderful first-half free-kick.

But Mandzukic's third Euro 2012 goal means the Italians may now need a big win over Ireland to progress.

That will depend to an extent on Spain's fortunes against the Irish in the group's evening kick-off.

For their part, Croatia appeared happy with a point after struggling to match a slick Italian side who dominated the first half thanks to a midfield masterclass from the evergreen Pirlo.

Much of the pre-match talk had centred on the midfield battle between veteran Juventus star Pirlo and his Croatia counterpart Luka Modric. But the Tottenham playmaker failed to match Pirlo, who dictated the game and set up waves of Italian counter-attacks.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli had stuck with the 3-5-2 formation used against Spain, which meant no room in his starting XI for Sunday's goalscoring substitute Antonio Di Natale.

"If, at the end of this game, Italy find themselves with just two points from two games they really have just got themselves to blame. They go a goal up and their natural thing is to sit back. You can't depend on that and expect teams never to score against you."

Instead Mario Balotelli retained his place, and he was heavily involved in the early stages as Italy settled quickly.

The Manchester City striker had a trio of golden opportunities before the quarter-hour mark but failed to beat Stipe Pletikosa in the Croatia goal after slightly hesitating on each occasion.

Fittingly, it was the 33-year-old Pirlo who opened the scoring, his free-kick dipping over the Croatian wall and past a helpless Pletikosa from 20 yards.

But Italy seemed to run out of energy in the final third of the match as Slavan Bilic's men upped the tempo in search of an equaliser.

Pirlo free-kick opens scoring

Croatia are the tallest squad in Euro 2012, with an average height of 6ft 1in, and they looked to use their aerial advantage, full-backs Ivan Strinic and Darijo Srna pressing forward to supply crosses for strikers Nikica Jelavic and Mandzukic.

And it was a pinpoint Strinic delivery that enabled Mandzukic to control before firing into the roof of Gianluigi Buffon's net off the post.

Ultimately Italy, who had failed to win their second group match in each of their last five tournaments, paid the price for not making their early dominance count.

Lineup, Bookings (3) & Substitutions (6)

Italy

  • 01 Buffon
  • 02 Maggio
  • 03 Chiellini
  • 19 Bonucci
  • 05 Motta Booked (Montolivo - 62' Booked )
  • 08 Marchisio
  • 13 Giaccherini
  • 16 De Rossi
  • 21 Pirlo
  • 09 Balotelli (Di Natale - 69' )
  • 10 Cassano (Giovinco - 83' )

Substitutes

  • 12 Sirigu
  • 14 De Sanctis
  • 04 Ogbonna
  • 06 Balzaretti
  • 07 Abate
  • 15 Barzagli
  • 18 Montolivo
  • 22 Diamanti
  • 23 Nocerino
  • 11 Di Natale
  • 17 Borini
  • 20 Giovinco

Croatia

  • 01 Pletikosa
  • 02 Strinic
  • 05 Corluka
  • 13 Schildenfeld Booked
  • 07 Rakitic
  • 08 Vukojevic
  • 10 Modric
  • 11 Srna
  • 20 Perisic (Pranjic - 68' )
  • 09 Jelavic (Eduardo - 83' )
  • 17 Mandzukic (Kranjcar - 90' )

Substitutes

  • 12 Kelava
  • 23 Subasic
  • 03 Simunic
  • 04 Buljat
  • 06 Pranjic
  • 15 Vrsaljko
  • 21 Vida
  • 14 Badelj
  • 16 Dujmovic
  • 19 Kranjcar
  • 18 Kalinic
  • 22 Eduardo
Ref: Howard Webb
Att: 37,096

Match Stats

Shots

15 9

On target

7 6

Corners

6 3

Fouls

12 20

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +6:01 Full time

Full Time The referee brings the game to a close.

90:00 +5:33

Ivan Strinic takes a shot. Gianluigi Buffon makes a save.

90:00 +2:25

Andrea Pirlo crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from left wing, clearance made by Ognjen Vukojevic.

90:00 +2:25 Substitution

Substitution Niko Kranjcar comes on in place of Mario Mandzukic.

90:00 +2:25

Free kick awarded for a foul by Mario Mandzukic on Riccardo Montolivo.

89:22

Gordon Schildenfeld fouled by Sebastian Giovinco, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Ivan Strinic.

88:55

Shot on goal by Ivan Strinic from just inside the area clears the crossbar.

88:32

Antonio Di Natale is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Darijo Srna takes the direct free kick.

88:11

The ball is delivered by Ivan Strinic.

87:08

Unfair challenge on Ognjen Vukojevic by Sebastian Giovinco results in a free kick. Gordon Schildenfeld takes the direct free kick.

86:12

Free kick awarded for a foul by Claudio Marchisio on Luka Modric. Free kick taken by Stipe Pletikosa.

85:32

Andrea Pirlo crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from right wing, Vedran Corluka makes a clearance.

85:32 Booking

Booking Gordon Schildenfeld is booked.

85:20

Free kick awarded for a foul by Gordon Schildenfeld on Sebastian Giovinco.

84:04

Andrea Pirlo decides to take a short corner.

82:13

Free kick taken by Giorgio Chiellini.

82:13 Substitution

Substitution Antonio Cassano goes off and Sebastian Giovinco comes on.

82:13 Substitution

Substitution (Croatia) makes a substitution, with Da Silva Eduardo coming on for Nikica Jelavic.

82:13

Ivan Rakitic concedes a free kick for a foul on Giorgio Chiellini.

79:33

Direct free kick taken by Ognjen Vukojevic.

79:33 Booking

Booking Riccardo Montolivo goes into the book.

79:29

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Mario Mandzukic by Riccardo Montolivo.

76:45

Cristian Maggio is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Stipe Pletikosa.

75:41

Riccardo Montolivo takes a shot. Stipe Pletikosa makes a save.

75:26

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Riccardo Montolivo by Mario Mandzukic. Direct free kick taken by Andrea Pirlo.

74:47

Nikica Jelavic is caught offside. Riccardo Montolivo restarts play with the free kick.

71:10

Assist by Ivan Strinic.

71:10 Goal scored

Goal! - Mario Mandzukic - Italy 1 - 1 Croatia Mario Mandzukic gets on the score sheet with a goal from close in to the top right corner of the goal. Italy 1-1 Croatia.

68:44 Substitution

Substitution Antonio Di Natale comes on in place of Mario Balotelli.

68:26

Ognjen Vukojevic gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Andrea Pirlo. Andrea Pirlo takes the direct free kick.

67:56

Cristian Maggio fouled by Ivan Strinic, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Leonardo Bonucci.

67:12 Substitution

Substitution Danijel Pranjic replaces Ivan Perisic.

66:23

Foul by Riccardo Montolivo on Darijo Srna, free kick awarded. Darijo Srna takes the direct free kick.

65:12

Luka Modric handles the ball and concedes a free kick. Giorgio Chiellini takes the free kick.

61:41

Free kick taken by Andrea Pirlo.

61:41 Substitution

Substitution Riccardo Montolivo is brought on as a substitute for Santos Thiago Motta.

61:41

Luka Modric is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick.

60:35

Effort from just outside the area by Mario Balotelli goes over the bar.

59:04

Luka Modric gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Daniele De Rossi. Gianluigi Buffon restarts play with the free kick.

58:53

The ball is swung over by Darijo Srna, Daniele De Rossi manages to make a clearance.

58:46

Ivan Perisic crosses the ball, Giorgio Chiellini makes a clearance.

57:52

Unfair challenge on Antonio Cassano by Vedran Corluka results in a free kick. Giorgio Chiellini takes the direct free kick.

56:01

Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Ivan Rakitic played to the near post.

56:01 Booking

Booking Santos Thiago Motta is booked.

55:32

Ivan Strinic takes a shot. Cristian Maggio gets a block in.

53:58

The official flags Cristian Maggio offside. Stipe Pletikosa takes the free kick.

53:15

A cross is delivered by Ivan Rakitic.

52:14

Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Ivan Rakitic played to the near post.

50:38

Emanuele Giaccherni takes a shot.

50:18

Corner taken by Andrea Pirlo from the right by-line, Vedran Corluka makes a clearance.

50:01

Leonardo Bonucci takes a shot. Blocked by Ivan Perisic.

49:39

Ognjen Vukojevic gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Mario Balotelli. Free kick taken by Andrea Pirlo.

48:16

Shot from just outside the box by Luka Modric goes over the bar.

47:03

Vedran Corluka challenges Emanuele Giaccherni unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Gianluigi Buffon.

46:20

Luka Modric takes a shot. Save by Gianluigi Buffon.

45:01

The referee starts the second half.

45:00 +1:07 Half time

Half Time The ref blows to signal half-time.

45:00 +0:13

Mario Mandzukic takes a shot. Gianluigi Buffon makes a save.

44:06

Unfair challenge on Mario Balotelli by Darijo Srna results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Emanuele Giaccherni.

41:44

Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Andrea Pirlo played to the near post, Header from close range by Antonio Cassano clears the bar.

41:34

The ball is sent over by Antonio Cassano, blocked by Ivan Perisic.

41:13

The ball is sent over by Emanuele Giaccherni, Vedran Corluka makes a clearance.

40:11

Ivan Rakitic challenges Emanuele Giaccherni unfairly and gives away a free kick. Gianluigi Buffon restarts play with the free kick.

39:39

The ball is delivered by Ivan Perisic, Leonardo Bonucci manages to make a clearance.

38:24

Assist on the goal came from Mario Balotelli.

38:24 Goal scored

Goal! - Andrea Pirlo - Italy 1 - 0 Croatia Free kick scored by Andrea Pirlo. Italy 1-0 Croatia.

37:12

Mario Balotelli fouled by Ivan Rakitic, the ref awards a free kick.

37:01

Claudio Marchisio takes a shot. Save by Stipe Pletikosa.

36:50

Claudio Marchisio takes a shot. Save made by Stipe Pletikosa.

34:35

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ognjen Vukojevic by Antonio Cassano. Stipe Pletikosa takes the direct free kick.

33:43

Long range effort from Mario Balotelli misses to the left of the target.

32:45

Antonio Cassano produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the left-hand upright.

32:09

Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Andrea Pirlo.

32:00

Claudio Marchisio takes a shot. Blocked by Vedran Corluka.

31:29

Mario Balotelli fouled by Ivan Strinic, the ref awards a free kick. Cristian Maggio takes the direct free kick.

29:46

Ivan Rakitic sends in a cross.

27:41

Foul by Nikica Jelavic on Cristian Maggio, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Gianluigi Buffon.

26:40

Darijo Srna takes the outswinging corner, Ivan Perisic takes a shot. Save made by Gianluigi Buffon.

25:41

Darijo Srna fouled by Emanuele Giaccherni, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick crossed by Darijo Srna, Cristian Maggio gets a block in.

25:33

The ball is swung over by Ivan Strinic, clearance made by Leonardo Bonucci.

24:40

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ivan Strinic by Mario Balotelli. Ivan Strinic restarts play with the free kick.

23:59

A cross is delivered by Andrea Pirlo.

22:49

The ball is swung over by Mario Mandzukic, clearance made by Daniele De Rossi.

21:59

Cristian Maggio concedes a free kick for a foul on Ivan Perisic. Direct free kick taken by Ivan Strinic.

21:31

Nikica Jelavic concedes a free kick for a foul on Daniele De Rossi. Direct free kick taken by Daniele De Rossi.

20:38

Mario Mandzukic concedes a free kick for a foul on Andrea Pirlo. Claudio Marchisio restarts play with the free kick.

19:58

Mario Balotelli gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Darijo Srna. Free kick taken by Vedran Corluka.

19:34

Centre by Darijo Srna, Gianluigi Buffon makes a save.

19:12

Nikica Jelavic concedes a free kick for a foul on Giorgio Chiellini. Direct free kick taken by Gianluigi Buffon.

17:54

Santos Thiago Motta is adjudged to have handled the ball. Darijo Srna takes the direct free kick.

17:17

Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Andrea Pirlo, clearance by Gordon Schildenfeld.

16:43

Free kick awarded for a foul by Antonio Cassano on Gordon Schildenfeld. Direct free kick taken by Luka Modric.

15:07

Mario Balotelli takes a shot. Save made by Stipe Pletikosa.

11:59

Foul by Nikica Jelavic on Andrea Pirlo, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Andrea Pirlo.

10:41

Effort on goal by Claudio Marchisio from just outside the area goes harmlessly over the target.

10:29

Mario Balotelli takes a shot. Blocked by Vedran Corluka.

8:11

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Nikica Jelavic by Giorgio Chiellini. Luka Modric restarts play with the free kick.

6:32

Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Andrea Pirlo from the right by-line to the near post, clearance made by Gordon Schildenfeld.

5:24

Nikica Jelavic has an effort at goal. Save by Gianluigi Buffon.

3:50

Mario Mandzukic challenges Giorgio Chiellini unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Gianluigi Buffon.

2:23

Mario Balotelli has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the target.

0:00

The referee starts the match.

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