Euro 2012: Spain-Italy play out a 1-1 draw
Holders Spain were held to a 1-1 draw by a dogged and determined Italy at the Arena Gdansk in the opening Group C match at the European Championship.
Holders Spain were held to a 1-1 draw by a dogged and determined Italy at the Arena Gdansk in the opening Group C match at the European Championship. (All AFP and AP Images)
A draw was a fair result as Italy were the better side in the first half and were fearless in taking the game to the world champions.
Colombian pop star Shakira was at the game to watch her Spainish defender boyfriend Gerard Pique in action.
Both coaches sprung a surprise with their team selections as Vicente Del Bosque opted to go without a striker, playing Cesc Fabregas between Andres Iniesta and David Silva.
The Spanish coach denied he had made a mistake playing Fabregas up front. "He's a very special player who can get forward and allows us to dominate the middle of the pitch," said Del Bosque.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli opted for Juventus reserve Emanuele Giaccherini in the left wing-back position, a role the forward is far from used to playing.
Andres Iniesta had a low shot that Gianluigi Buffon gathered comfortably at his near post but otherwise Italy were far the more dangerous.
Mario Balotelli was hauled off for Antonio Di Natale in the second half and the striker's first act was to beat the offside trap on 61 minutes to meet Andrea Pirlo's precise through ball and clip home beyond Iker Casillas.
That seemed to wake up the holders, though, and a clever move saw the ball shift quickly from Iniesta to David Silva and then the breaking Fabregas to finish to level the score.
But Chelsea striker Fernando Torres missed two glorious late chances after coming off the bench to replace the goalscorer.