Day three of the Euros saw the introduction of the teams from Group C.
First up was Champions Spain against Italy, the two teams are favorites to qualify and wanted positive starts to the championships. As expected, the Spanish dominated possession but seemed to really miss an out and out striker with Cesc Fabregas starting as the main forward man.
The opening half contained a lot of keep ball by Spain, with the Italians seeming happy to sit back and soak up the pressure. The main threats were from long rang efforts which were easily dealt with by both keepers, the sides went into half time with much to think about.
The second half started pretty much the same way with Spain keeping the ball, that was until, Man City man Mario Balotelli, gained the ball from a Pique mistake but failed to capitalise as he held onto the ball too long. He was substituted for Antonio Di Natale who made an almost instant impression, the striker timed his run to perfection in order to latch onto a through ball and neatly finished in the corner to give his country the lead on the hour mark.
It didn't take the champions long to strike back as former Arsenal skipper Fabregas, finished off a great move to level the game just four minutes later. The game then saw the introduction of Fernando Torres who squandered chance after chance, the Chelsea man could have had a hat trick but looked short of any confidence. I think the Italians will be delighted with this result and confident of progression, the Spanish won't be too disappointed and should win their next two games.
The second game of the day featured the Republic of Ireland taking on Croatia. Both sides would be confident going into the match after a good run of form and knew that a win would be crucial with the games that will follow. This was the Republic's first major finals in ten years and brought a large number of supporters with them.
The match started disastrously for the Irish, who went behind after three minutes thanks to a goal from Mario Mandzukic. The Irish hit back a few minutes later when Leicester City's Sean St Ledger, headed them level on nineteen minutes, the Croatian's were on top for most of the game though and were rewarded as Nikica Jelavic scored with two minutes till half time.
The second half started the same as the first, with Mandzukic's header rebounding of the unlucky Shay Given to make it three for Croatia just four minutes in. Following the goal, the Irish made changes and tried to become more attacking, they should have had a penalty in the 64th minute when captain Robbie Keane was hacked down in the area, but nothing was given.
The Republic kept pressing but only came close through a couple of Keith Andrews' efforts. Despite an awful refereeing performance, the Irish can have few complaints as Croatia were much the better side. I can't see the Republic qualifying with the games that follow, the Croatians have a real chance now and were very impressive tonight.