Italy was excellent in the first half, orchestrated by the peerless Andrea Pirlo. All that stood between Italy scoring more goals was Stipe Pletikosa. In one sequence he stopped Claudio Marchisio, not once but twice in succession. It took Pirlo's artful curling kick with a homing device attached on the ball to beat Pletikosa near post for Italy to grab the lead.
The Croats were allowed back into the game as Italy went into protection mode which has proven not to work well specially with one goal leads. Ivan Strinic's cross in the 70th minute which Giorgio Chiellini whiffed at was brought under control by Mario Mandzukic with a nice touch before he blasted the ball past Buffon. It was his third goal and he shares the billing of top scorer with Alan Dagoev and Mario Gomez.
Mario Balotelli played incident free and rather well. The draw sets up Italy in good position for the final match against Ireland which they should win. On the other hand, the Croatians have their work cut out for them meeting the defending champion.