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Croatia wins, moves to top of Group C
Italy, Spain tie 1-1
Mario Mandzukic scored two goals Sunday to help Croatia beat Ireland 3-1 at the European Championship in Poznan, Poland.
Croatia moved to the top of Group C with three points. Spain and Italy each have one point after their 1-1 draw in Gdansk.
Croatia took the lead in the third minute when Mandzukic looped a header past a diving Shay Given, but Ireland equalized in the 19th when Sean St. Ledger headed in Aiden McGeady's free kick from the left.
Nikica Jelavic put Croatia back in front in the 43rd minute, scoring his first goal in a competitive match since he made his international debut in 2009.
Mandzukic added the third in the 48th after his header from Ivan Perisic's cross bounced off the post and into the net off Given's head.
"It was unlike us to concede the goals we conceded today," St. Ledger said. "Croatia didn't split us open. From our point of view they were disappointing goals to concede."
Croatia nearly made it 4-1 in the 77th when Ivan Rakitic's shot curled just wide of Given's right hand post.
The three goals were as many as Ireland had conceded in its previous 14 games.
"It's always nice to get goals, but we lost the game," St. Ledger said. "We need to move on now."
Opening their bid for a third straight major title, the Spanish rallied to earn a 1-1 tie Sunday against Italy, which entered this year's European Championship amid another match-fixing scandal.
Antonio Di Natale put Italy in front after an excellent setup from Andrea Pirlo in the 61st minute, but Cesc Fabregas tied it for the defending champions three minutes later by finishing off a dazzling display of Spain's trademark passing game.
"Being the favorite now is complicated, but in the end we found the character," Fabregas said.
Spain, which followed up its Euro 2008 victory with the 2010 World Cup title, dominated the Group C match for long stretches but struggled to finish at times, while Italy relied on dangerous counterattacks.
"The thing that really disappoints us is that we allowed them to equalize very quickly," Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said. "We were playing the world champions and we should have made them work harder to get back into the game. We gave Spain the chance to score goals."
The draw ended a 14-match winning streak for Spain in competitive matches, which began after a 1-0 loss to Switzerland to open the last World Cup.
By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
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