Spain and Italy advance at Euros

The Spanish beat Croatia, 1-0. Cassano and Balotelli scored to give the Italians a 2-0 victory over Ireland.

Posted: June 20, 2012

Spain and Italy confirmed their heavyweight reputations at the European Championship on Monday, advancing to the quarterfinals after winning their final group matches.

Defending champion Spain sealed top spot in Group C by beating Croatia, 1-0, in Gdansk, Poland, on a late goal by substitute Jesus Navas.

Navas, who replaced Fernando Torres, struck in the 88th, tapping into an empty net.

In Poznan, Poland, Mario Balotelli came off the bench to score Italy's second goal in a 2-0 victory against Ireland, lifting the Azzurri above Croatia in the standings. Antonio Cassano opened the scoring, continuing his impressive recovery from minor heart surgery in midseason to score with a header in the 35th minute.

In the 90th minute, Balotelli scored a marvelous goal, hooking a volleyed shot over his left shoulder and around defender John O'Shea. After scoring, Balotelli appeared to gesture and shout angrily, as teammate Leonardo Bonucci embraced him and covered his mouth.

Croatia's football association faces a UEFA charge on Tuesday over its fans' racist abuse of Balotelli, who is of Ghanaian descent, last week.

Earlier, UEFA president Michel Platini said he was "not happy" with Croatia fans at Euro 2012.

For the third straight Croatia game, fans threw flares which belched smoke around the stadium in Gdansk.

Platini told reporters that the atmosphere in Euro 2012 stadiums had been "99 percent great" with "nice people, except some Croatians."

Bendtner banned. Denmark's Nicklas Bendtner paid a heavy price for his underpants. The Danish forward was suspended for one 2014 World Cup qualifying match and fined $126,000 by UEFA for revealing an unofficial sponsor's name on his underwear while celebrating a goal against Portugal on Wednesday.

U.S. women win. Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan each scored twice to give the United States women's team a 4-1 win over Japan in Halmstad, Sweden, in a warmup for the London Olympics.

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