Madrid: Pedro Rodriguez's goal was enough to give World champions Spain a 1-0 win over Italy in their final game before coach Vicente del Bosque names his squad to defend their title later this year in Brazil. Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa was handed his debut on home soil at the Vicente Calderon Stadium in what was a rematch of the Euro 2012 final which saw Spain successfully defend their title.
However, Costa failed to make much of an impression and it was Spain's top goalscorer in qualification, Pedro, who made the difference when his shot squirmed under Gianluigi Buffon just after the hour mark. Spain will play two more friendly matches against Bolivia and El Salvador after the end of the club season before they kick-off their World Cup campaign for real against the team they beat in the 2010 final the Netherlands on June 13.
"I am very happy to have made my debut with Spain and to win to gain confidence," Costa told Spanish TV station Telecinco.
"The manager believes in me and I am going to try to play as well as I can with Atletico so I can go to the national team in the best condition.
"I know that the first few games are not easy and I know I can do a lot more. I will continue working hard to hard to do the best I can."
Despite failing to find the target Del Bosque hailed Costa's work rate as he completed the 90 minutes.
"We are happy with him. He didn't score, but he worked very hard and showed a lot of effort in everything he did."
It was a less satisfactory evening for Italy boss Cesare Prandelli as his side looked well off the pace and he admitted Spain had been both physically and technically superior. "I expected us to be better physically," he said.
"It is obvious Spain are a stronger side, but when you face a side with the quality they have and they are physically better it is very difficult.
"Whenever they lost the ball, they won it back quickly and we didn't have the same intensity.
"This match serves to show what we need to correct and there is still time before the World Cup to do so."
Spain started the brighter and could have been in front after just 80 seconds when a characteristic burst forward from left-back by Jordi Alba forced Buffon into a brave save. It was the visitors who nearly went ahead in fortunate circumstances moments later, though, as Alessio Cerci's attempted cross came back off the inside of the post and into the grateful arms of Iker Casillas.
Both sides made three changes at the break as David Silva, Xabi Alonso and Victor Valdes came on for the hosts, whilst Pirlo was introduced alongside Ignazio Abate and Mattia de Sciglio by Cesare Prandelli.
It was Silva who nearly had an immediate impact as his through ball released Thiago, but the Bayern Munich midfielder was denied by a stunning save from Buffon. Silva then fired wide when he should have hit the target when well-placed just outside the area on his favoured left foot.
The Manchester City midfielder was involved again when Spain did eventually make the breakthrough on 63 minutes as after a lovely one-two between him and Iniesta, the ball fell kindly for Pedro and his low effort squeezed in despite Buffon's best efforts. Costa's final chance for a debut goal came and went 10 minutes from time when his shot flashed across goal.