Full-time - 90'
2 - 0
18:45 +00:00, June 18, 2012
Poznan Municipal Stadium, Poznan, Poland
Thanks for joining us and stick with ESPN FC for the match report and post-match reaction.
The results mean Spain will take on the runners-up in Group D - likely England or Ukraine - while Italy will expect to take on France.
A quite incredible end to Group C, with Spain having come close to a shock exit but netting a late winner that sees them finish top.
A Croatia equaliser would have sent the Italians home, but the Italy players celebrate wildly as the result from Gdansk comes through.
And Italy are through!
Diamanti shoots from the corner but it's out for a corner.
Italy race away on the counter through Balotelli, but they have to settle for a corner.
Duff takes the free-kick but it's an easy catch for Buffon.
Duff wins a free-kick from Abate.
I believe that makes Italy safe even if Croatia equalise.
Perhaps not quite an overhead, but certainly a very fine finish.
Balotelli scores an overhead kick from the corner!
GOAL FOR ITALY!
Balotelli, meanwhile, wins a corner from Dunne with a long shot.
Andrews is sent off! He picks up his second yellow and reacts very angrily...
Spain have scored against Croatia! That means Italy are now second in the group as it stands. A Croatia equaliser would send Italy out though...
O'Shea certainly did handball. Balotelli flicked it over his head and the Sunderland man used his hand to stop the ball.
Keane comes off to be replaced by Cox.
In the end, the free-kick went straight into the wall. It appeared O'Shea may have handled in the area, but no penalty is given.
The Italians are now demanding Ireland move back ten yards, while POirlo moved the ball forwards while the red's back was turned.
Balotelli winds his way through the defence, loses the ball, but gets a free-kick anyway from Andrews. St Ledger appears to have been booked.
Duff is penalised for bringing down Diamanti and Whelan is incensed.
Keane robs a rather careless Pirlo but, after playing a pass and getting the return, puts his cross out for a goal kick. It was a difficult angle to be fair to him.
Walters is penalised for putting his arm on Balzaretti as he leapt for a header.
Ward crosses and Long heads waywardly. Keane manages to keep it in play, but an offside is given.
Remember: Italy have to win tonight, regardless of what happens in the other game. As it stands, with the other match 0-0, they are top of the group.
Andrews drills it towards goal and Buffon has to make the save!
Italy are disputing the ref's interpretation of ten yards.
Diamanti fouls Walters - or perhaps handballs, or both - and Ireland have a free-kick in a dangerous position.
Walters comes on for Doyle.
Doyle tries a sideways scissor from the corner and the ball goes back out to Duff, who plays it into the area. Ireland head just over the bar, but Buffon wins a free-kick anyway.
Balotelli comes on for Di Natale.
Ward wins another corner from Abate.
Buffon picks up a yellow for complaining about the ref's failure to play at advantage as Italy countered.
Dunne meets the free-kick at the far post but can't quite direct it back into the danger area.
Duff lines it up.
Whelan puts the ball into the box and it comes to Duff, who finds himself massively outnumbered and running back to goal but manages to win a free-kick.
Doyle makes a good run down the right and De Rossi brings him down and takes the yellow.
Long fouls De Rossi as the long ball comes forward.
O'shea makes a clearance for Ireland as a cross from the right seemed to have evaded everyone. Keane wins a free-kick in the aftermath.
Pirlo aims for the top corner but it's over the bar.
Definite Pirlo range here.
Long chops down Pirlo and Italy knock it forwards, winning another free-kick just outside the box as O'Shea bundles over Diamanti.
Duff's corner is headed clear.
Long puts Bonucci under pressure as Ireland win a corner.
Diamanti curls in a shot from out on the left, which Given claims with no trouble.
Duff's corner is nearly met by Ward, but he doesn't make a connection. There seems to be a penalty appeal for some reason.
McGeady comes off - he'd done pretty well really - and is replaced by striker Shane Long.
De Rossi makes a good tackle on Keith Andrews as he looks to unleash a long-range effort. Deflected for a corner kick.
Doyle wins a header from a long free-kick but it's straight at Buffon.
Di Natale runs clear in acres of space... but he's just offside.
Cassano is replaced by Diamanti.
Pirlo's free-kick is overlong and Ireland win a goal kick.
Balzaretti slides to reach the ball and O'Shea tugs his shirt as he gets back up. Pirlo lines up the free-kick near the corner flag.
Ireland are able to get a shot away as Doyle flicks the ball to Andrews, who takes a shot and then fires from distance. It's well struck but straight at Buffon.
Whelan receives the ball in the Italy half but is instantly closed down.
Marchisio unleashes a shot as the ball loops up in front of him, but it's always off target.
Cassano wins a free-kick just inside the Ireland half.
He's able to walk off as Juve team-mate Bonucci replaces him.
He challenged for the ball with Doyle and may have torn a muscle.
Chiellini looks to have suffered a significant injury.
Cassano looks to flick a ball over the top on the turn, but it's straight to Given.
Di Natale is released down the left and gets a shot away, but the angle is against him. Given can't hold the shot, but Ireland get it away.
Dunne rises to head the corner but Barzagli gets a bit of a push in and puts him off. Goal kick.
McGeady does well out on the right and gets a deep cross in for Keane, whose header hits Abate. Corner kick.
De Rossi manages to find some space on the edge of the area and looks to curl the ball into the top corner, but it's over the bar.
O'Shea puts the ball into the centre for Doyle, who looks to fire it back over his head. Over the bar.
Dunne now makes a block as Cassano goes for a precision shot as Balzaretti plays the pull-back. The full-back then tries another shot, and it's rotten again.
Pirlo sends in a corner, but Andrews heads away at the near post.
St Ledger once agains blocks a Di Natale shot at close range!
Abate produces a neat bit of skill to get Italy out trouble while facing his own corner flag.
Ireland get the second half underway
Ireland fans hold up a banner responding to Roy Keane: "Can we sing now, Roy?" They sang a rude song responding to Keano earlier too.
The teams make their way back onto the field.
Antonio Cassano heads home for Italy to open the scoring
All, ahem, very simple really.
Spain are currently going through in second, though, because - as they're level with Croatia - it then goes to overall goal difference, and their 4-0 win over Ireland beats Croatia's 3-1 win.
So Croatia's 3-1 win over Ireland and Spain's 4-0 win over Ireland don't affect the goal difference. Given that, Italy have drawn 1-1 against the other teams in the mini-league, while the 0-0 draw between Croatia and Spain means they trail on goals scored.
With the Croatia-Spain game at 0-0, Italy are leading the group. That's because, with the three teams on five points, it goes into a mini-league of games involving only those three teams.
Italy, then, take a deserved lead into the half-time break, though Ireland have been much improved and could easily have punished them.
Cassano puts a ball straight through to Given following a neat piece of play invliving De Rossi and Pirlo.
Ireland win a free-kick as Chiellini knocks Doyle down. It stopped a counter but they could probably do with the breather really.
Pirlo swings the corner in but Ireland head clear this time.
Cassano finds Motta in the area but Dunne is in there to make the challenge.
O'Shea makes the block as De Rossi looks for Balzaretti.
Abate makes a fine challenge to spark an Italy counter.
Italy are in total control of possession now.
St Ledger heads back to Given as Italy look to extend their advantage.
Italy win another free-kick out on the left and Ireland are lucky to escape.
Italy, incidentally, are now top of Group C as it stands. Head here for the explanation.
Pirlo shoots from distance but it's headed away for a throw-in.
Italy have a free-kick.
There was some debate as to whether that had crossed the line, but it certainly did.
Cassano heads against the bar and - just - over the line from the corner!
GOAL FOR ITALY!
In the aftermath, Cassano unleashes a shot that Given spills for a corner.
Di Natale takes it around Given and, from a seemingly impossible angle, gets a shot in on goal, but St Ledger is on the line to ensure it doesn't go in!
Abate finds Di Natale, whose shot is blocked by St Ledger.
St Ledger nearly gets himself in a bit of trouble after taking the ball from Di Natale, but he clears well enough.
ESPN's Janusz Michallik tweets: "Motta is no trequartista. #Euro2012 #noregrets"
Balzaretti is offside this time as he receives a pass from Pirlo.
Di Natale gets a shot away after good work from Balzaretti and there are appeals for a handball against St Ledger. It seemed to hit his chest, though.
Chiellini seemed to have hurt himself but is up walking again.
De Rossi plays a direct pass forwards but there's just too much on it and Given collects.
Balzaretti gets a yellow for a hilarious rugby tackle as Ireland threatened to spark a counter.
Cassano finds Di Natale in the centre and he gets a shot away from close range which needed a block. Italy's best chance, perhaps.
Duff swings the ball in but the ref gives a foul in Chiellini's favour.
Italy need to wake up fast.
Duff runs at three defenders and wins a free-kick on the left.
Ireland win a free-kick for a shove on Keane from Barzagli.
Ireland on the attack again! McGeady finds Keane on the left, but the forward's ball into the centre finds a defender.
Duff curls in after the corner and St Ledger rises but can't direct it goalwards.
Italy are all over the place here. Ireland had five attackers on three defenders there and have won a corner.
Ireland attack down the right flank but Barzagli bundles Whelan over and Italy are awarded a throw-in.
McGeady does well to get a cross in from the right and Doyle rises between two defenders to head it but can't make any decent connection.
Pirlo plays a rotten a through-ball. The quality is really dropping at the moment.
Chiellini then gives it away to McGeady.
Ireland nearly put a few passes together but Andrews plays a rotten ball as they look to break away.
Duff plays it into the area, and Dunne meets it but gets penalised for a push.
Doyle and Chiellini clash heads. Ireland free-kick.
The corner goes short and eventually finds its way to Balzaretti, who blasts it unceremoniously into row Z. Not very good, really.
Ward puts the ball behind for a corner as Cassano slips while collecting a long pass.
Prandelli is giving De Rossi and Marchisio some more instruction. He must be a little concerned with how his team have started, even if they've had the better of it.
Doyle makes a superb challenge on Pirlo and Ireland counter, but Whelan overhits the final pass and Italy survive. Pirlo's walking gingerly.
Keane receives the ball in front of the the last two defenders but loses out to Barzagli.
De Rossi plays a chipped ball over the defence but it's straight through to Given.
McGeady nearly finds himself running clear down the right flank, but he's offside.
McGeady this time makes the clearance from Pirlo's corner.
Dunne heads behind for yet another corner.
Cassano does well to make space for a cross, but it's ahead of the Italy attack and O'Shea is able to head behind for another corner.
Italy on the attack again, but Di Natale is punished for a high boot.
Pirlo's corner is taken short but it's returned to him for the cross, which is headed clear.
Balzaretti crosses and, while Ireland clear, it comes back in and De Rossi wins a corner. Italy starting to get a grip on the game.
Pirlo's corner is headed back into the centre for Motta, who slips and can't quite get any control of the ball.
Abate attempts a cross and wins a corner for Italy. Cracking start to this game.
Pirlo tries a through pass but Whelan collects and Ireland break. Doyle thinks he's won a corner from Barzagli, but a goal kick's given.
McGeady races down the left and wins a throw-in. This is the kind of thing Ireland had been looking for all tournament.
The Irish fans are in full voice, as they have been pretty much throughout the tournament.
Doyle nearly connects with the cross! Italy are fortunate to be level at this stage...
Ireland win a free-kick out on the right flank. Duff stands over it.
Chiellini loses out on a header and Robbie Keane chases down the ball, but again Buffon is out to collect.
At the other end, Di Natale crosses for De Rossi to volley from outside the area, but the shot is skewed wide.
Ireland launch a shock early attack as Doyle bursts through the centre, but he fails to take advantage as Buffon collects.
Italy kick off
Buffon and Duff share a joke ahead of the coin toss. They both look pretty relaxed.
Spain fans taunt the Italians
The players are now out on the field for the national anthems.
If there's any confusion as to why the 2-2 is such a problem for Italy, and what other results may mean for them, you can read Dale Johnson's permutations article.
Italy fans are concerned about a 2-2 draw - a "biscotto" - in the night's other match in Group C.
Thiago Motta is to play in the advanced midfield role.
In defence, Andrea Barzagli makes his first appearance of Euro 2012 after recovering from a calf strain, while Ignazio Abate and Federico Balzaretti start in the full-back positions in place of Christian Maggio and Emanuele Giaccherini.
Italy have named a 4-3-1-2 formation for the match, with Antonio Di Natale partnering Antonio Cassano in attack. Mario Balotelli, who had been suffering with a knee injury, is on the bench.
Ireland had already announced their team news, as is Trapattoni's way, with Kevin Doyle replacing Simon Cox in attack.
If you're in search of further reading before the game, Adam Digby has written a piece on how Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni will get on against his former protege Cesare Prandelli here.
There are suggestions that several of Ireland's old guard could retire from international football, with Damien Duff among them. The Fulham winger takes the captaincy against Italy as he wins his 100th cap.
Ireland, meanwhile, are playing for pride alone, and they could certainly do with restoring some after their 4-0 thrashing against Spain. Ireland blogger Padraic Nugent discusses their prospects of doing so here.
Italy blogger Summet Paul has shared his thoughts on the potential 2-2 draw and other matters here.
That has led to plenty of talk of match-fixing, which has been angrily denied by both the Spain and Croatia camps.
Italy, therefore, ought to progress with a victory, but a 2-2 draw between Spain and Croatia would leave them no hope of reaching the next round.
The Italians drew their first two matches and are in third place with two points, while Spain and Croatia - who play in tonight's other game - are on four points apiece.
Ireland, of course, are already out of the tournament after losing their first two games, but Italy's chances of progress are very much alive.
Live commentary will appear here from 1945 BST.