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Italy, Spain advance to quarterfinals of European Championship

Italy earns a 2-0 decision over Ireland and clinches the second spot in Group C after Spain finishes off a 1-0 win over Croatia.

June 18, 2012|Wire reports

Italy qualified for the quarterfinals of the European Championship after Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli scored in each half of a tense 2-0 victory over Ireland on Monday in Poznan, Poland.

Cassano headed in the ball with his back to the goal by the near post following a corner kick in the 35th minute on a warm and muggy night.

Balotelli came on as a substitute and doubled the lead in the 90th, a minute after Ireland was reduced to 10 men with Keith Andrews picking up his second yellow card.

Still, Italy had to wait a few moments after the final whistle to celebrate after receiving word that Spain beat Croatia, 1-0, in the other Group C match.

"We suffered in the last few minutes because we were waiting for the result in the other game," Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli said. "We have got through this group which wasn't easy with Croatia, Spain and even Ireland who, even though they were out, gave everything they could. … Today we realized that beyond quality, you really need heart."

Italy will meet the Group D winner Sunday in Kiev — with France, England and co-host Ukraine among the possible opponents.

In Gdansk, Poland, a late goal by Jesus Navas gave Spain the win over Croatia and the top spot in Group C. Andres Iniesta passed to Navas inside the area after Spain broke through an offside trap, and the substitute forward kicked the ball into an empty net in the 88th minute.

"We played to the end and we deserved the win," said Navas, who scored his second career goal for the world champions.

The defending European champions dominated possession as expected but failed to create many opportunities. Goalkeeper Iker Casillas made a pair of clutch second half stops.

Spain, which is trying to win its third straight major title, will face the second-place team in Group D on Saturday in Donetsk, Ukraine.

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Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan each scored twice to give the United States women's soccer team a 4-1 win over Japan in Halmstad, Sweden, in its penultimate tuneup for the Olympics.

Morgan put the U.S. ahead in the third minute and Wambach made it 2-0 in the 10th in the third rematch of 2011 World Cup finalists this year. The Americans beat Sweden, 3-1, on Saturday in a three-team set of exhibitions called the Volvo Winners Cup. Japan plays Sweden on Wednesday.

The United States next plays June 30 against Canada in Sandy, Utah, before going to London.

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Denmark's Nicklas Bendtner was banned for one 2014 World Cup qualifying match for revealing an unofficial sponsor's name on his underwear while celebrating a goal at the European Championship. UEFA said its disciplinary panel found the 24-year-old Bendtner guilty of "improper conduct," and fined him $126,000.

The punishment rules him out of the Danes' opening World Cup qualifier, at home to the Czech Republic on Sept. 8.

Bendtner raised his shirt and lowered the top of his shorts slightly, revealing the name of a betting firm across the top of his underpants, after scoring his second goal in a 3-2 loss against Portugal last Wednesday.

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Three Toronto FC players were charged with public intoxication after police said they got in a fight outside a Houston nightclub and then argued with officers.

Police spokeswoman Jodi Silva said Miguel Aceval, Nick Soolsma and Luis Silva were jailed after the incident early Monday in the parking lot of the Club Escobar. Toronto FC plays the Dynamo in Houston on Wednesday.

Silva said the three players were involved in a "large fight" outside the club about 2:30 a.m. Officers intervened, Silva said, and the three players "refused to leave the location and became belligerent" with police. One player, Silva said, tried to flee the scene on foot, but was caught. No one else was arrested.

Etc.

LaDainian Tomlinson signed a one-day contract with the San Diego Chargers and announced his retirement after a brilliant 11-year NFL career.

Tomlinson, about to turn 33, says it's time to move on and enjoy his family. He says he's still physically capable of playing but that the game takes a mental toll.

Tomlinson was drafted in the first round by San Diego in 2001 and became one of the biggest stars in team history. He was with the Chargers for nine seasons before playing the last two seasons with the New York Jets.

Tomlinson was voted NFL MVP in 2006, when he set league single-season records with 31 touchdowns, including 28 rushing, and 186 points.

Tomlinson finishes his career with 13,684 yards, fifth all-time, and 145 touchdowns.

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R.C. Owens, a longtime San Francisco 49ers front office man and eight-year NFL wide receiver whose impressive leaping ability earned him the nickname "Alley Oop" and helped popularize the basketball phrase, died Sunday at age 78.

The 49ers, his team for the first five of his NFL seasons, announced Owens' death on Monday. The team said he died Sunday and had been living in Manteca, about 75 miles east of San Francisco.

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San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson announced that Todd McLellan would return next season as coach.

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A Florida jury awarded a disgraced former NBA referee $1.3 million in a lawsuit against the company that published his memoir. Tim Donaghy sued Shawna Vercher and her company, VTi Group, in Pinellas County civil court, saying he hadn't been paid. The now-defunct company published Donaghy's 2010 book about referees and the NBA.

On Friday, a jury found Vercher's company liable for breach of contract. Vercher and her company were also cited by the jury for conspiracy to commit civil theft, civil theft, intentional infliction of emotional distress and tortious interference with business relations.

Donaghy, who is 45 and lives in Sarasota, spent 13 months in federal prison after admitting in 2008 that he took thousands of dollars from a professional gambler in exchange for inside tips on games.

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