Mario Mandzukic scored his third goal of Euro 2012 as Croatia came from behind to draw 1-1 with Italy and strengthen their position in a tough Group C on Thursday.

Italy, who drew 1-1 with holders Spain in their opening game, had the best of the first half and after missing several chances went ahead after 39 minutes when Andrea Pirlo curled a free kick over the wall, the first European Championship goal direct from a free kick since 2004.

Croatia forced their way back into the game and leveled after 72 minutes when Giorgio Chiellini misjudged an Ivan Strinic cross and Mandzukic brought it down and smashed it in to add to the two headers he scored in the 3-1 win over Ireland.

Croatia have four points, Italy two and Spain one ahead of their game against pointless Ireland in Gdansk later on Thursday.

(Reporting by Mitch Phiillips; Editing by Ed Osmond)