Roy Keane nightmare: Ireland lose while fans sing along
'We will sing what we want', chant fans, as Ireland make it three defeats in Euro 2012
IRELAND'S Euro 2012 odyssey ended last night as it began - with a resounding defeat and amid raucous support from fans. Roy Keane must have been spitting tacks as he watched his former side slump to their third reverse of the tournament, a 2-0 defeat to Italy to add to drubbings against Croatia and Spain.
Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli got the goals for Italy - the latter a brilliant hook that the Manchester City striker celebrated in typically nonchalant fashion.
Ireland's dismal showing at the championships was capped by the second half dismissal of Keith Andrews, who left the field gesticulating furiously at the referee, having been sent off for a second bookable offence.
The result didn't prevent the Ireland faithful putting on a show in the stands with thousands of them 'doing the Poznan' before launching into a rendition of their new chant: "We will sing what we want, f**k you Roy Keane, we will sing what we want."
Keane's namesake, Ireland captain Robbie Keane, said after the defeat: "It's a shame the team has not performed as well as we can and we didn't get a result for the fans, as they have been fantastic for the three games." God only knows how Roy Keane reacted to that limp statement.
For much of last night Italy had looked like finishing top of Group C as Croatia were on the verge of holding Spain to a goalless encounter in Gdansk.
Despite the fact the Spanish dominated possession they lacked potency in front of goal with Fernando Torres – scorer of two goals in the 4-0 thrashing of Ireland – as ineffective as he had been for Chelsea last season.
Croatia almost snatched the lead on the hour mark when Luka Modric's teasing cross was met with a thunderous header from Ivan Rakitic. Iker Casillas made a brilliant reflex save and the Spanish keeper later produced a smart block from Ivan Perisic's shot.
As Croatia poured forward in the closing minutes in search of the goal that would take them through to the last eight at Spain's expense, their opponents hit them on the counter attack.
Cesc Fabregas was the creator and Jesus Navas the finisher, the Seville forward tapping the ball into the Croatian net for a win that secured Spain top spot in Group C.
Afterwards Spain coach Vicente del Bosque admitted his side hadn't been at their best but all that mattered was ensuring their progress into the quarter-final. "When you don't have your greatest game but manage to win, it gives you confidence," he said.
"I have no preferences regarding who we face in the next round. We will just look to play well and resolve whatever issues arise out on the pitch."
Spain and Italy will play the runner-up and winner respectively of Group D.
As it stands ahead of tonight's matches between France and Sweden, and England and Ukraine, the French are top of that group and England second on goal difference.
Thus France and England both need a point to qualify for the last eight. But according to UEFA's finest boffins, even if England lose they could still qualify if "France lose by enough so that England at least end level with Les Bleus on goal difference and goals scored (as England have a superior coefficient, 33.563 to France's 30.508)."
Confused? You can bet Wayne Rooney is.