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Sunday, 10 June 2012

Spain 1-1 Italy: Fabregas spares holders' blushes

The Barcelona midfielder replied almost immediately after Antonio Di Natale's strike on the hour mark to earn La Furia Roja a point in the opening match of kicked off their respective Euro 2012 campaigns with an absorbing 1-1 draw on Sunday in Group C.

Antonio Di Natale drew first blood for the Azzurri on 60 minutes, coming straight off the substitutes bench to put his side ahead, but only four minutes later, Cesc Fabregas ensured their opening day ended with a share of the spoils in Gdansk.

The headline news that preceded the match was the inclusion of Cesc Fabregas as the man who would be bestowed with leading the line for the Spaniards in a 'false No.9' role, ahead of recognised strikers Fernando Torres and Fernando Llorente.

Meanwhile, coach Cesare Prandelli went with a 3-5-2 formation, with Daniele De Rossi lining up in defence. Emanuele Giaccherini was also given his maiden bow for the Azzurri at left wing-back.

Predictably, inside the first 10 minutes, Spain set out their stall as Italy were put on the back foot. La Roja threatened to impose their tiki-taka style in the early stages, but la Nazionale's wall at the back refused to be beaten, lead by Daniele De Rossi.


Soon after, the first chance of the game fell to David Silva, as the Roma man's mistimed tackle saw the ball fall to Andres Iniesta, who then laid a pass off for the diminutive Manchester City star. However, his attempt was easily saved by Gianluigi Buffon.

The move provided the impetus for Italy to hit back on 13 minutes with an Andrea Pirlo free-kick. Mario Balotelli's feint allowed the Juventus playmaker to step up and curl an attempt to the right of Iker Casillas, but the goalkeeper parried away to safety.

From there on, Italy gained momentum. Antonio Cassano was next up, collecting Claudio Marchisio's through ball, but his shot in the box went just wide of the far post with Casillas beaten.

Spain seemed to have lost their cutting edge, but with Iniesta on the ball, they could never be discounted. Italy continued to look more purposeful in their play, but La Roja came steaming back through the Barcelona man, who saw his lobbed effort go just over.

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