Cassano and Balotelli send Italy into last eight

Antonio Cassano's first-half header and a spectacular Mario Balotelli volley in the final minute sent Italy through to the Euro 2012 quarter-finals as Group C runners-up after a 2-0 victory over Ireland on Monday.

Cassano glanced in Andrea Pirlo's corner on 35 minutes, the ball clearly crossing the line before Damien Duff hacked clear. Substitute Balotelli swiveled to thump in a corner from eight meters out to secure victory.

Italy, who will play the Group D winners in the last eight in Kiev on Sunday, finished runners-up on five points, behind group winners Spain on seven.

Ireland, already eliminated after defeats by Croatia and Spain, threatened sporadically with their best moment coming when keeper Gianluigi Buffon parried a fierce drive from Keith Andrews who was sent off on 89 minutes.

(Writing by Justin Palmer, editing by Ed Osmond)