Reigning European champions Spain drew 1-1 with Italy after Cesc Fabregas cancelled out substitute Antonio Di Natale’s opener in the Group C encounter in Gdansk.
It has to be the best game of the tournament so far, as both the teams matched each other’s strength perfectly in the first half. In the second half 34-year-old Antonio Di Natale who came on as a substitute in place of out-of-sort Mario Balotelli gave Italy the lead. Minutes later Spain leveled the score as Cesc Fabregas found the net after David Silva picked him in the box with a peach of a pass.
Del Bosque stunned everyone when he didn’t include any striker in his first eleven. Instead he gave Cesc Fabregas the starting berth in a ‘false nine’ position. The Azzurri lined up a 3-5-2 formation had De Rossi at the back and Balotelli and Cassano upfront.
Spain had the first sniff at the goal, when from the corner David Silva lashes a shot over the crossbar from 25 yards out.
Balotelli earned a corner, but minutes later his misplaced header sets Spain away three versus two. Fabregas was fouled by De Rossi but the referee played the advantage. Iniesta hurrying into the box picks David Silva who scuffs his shot right at Buffon.
Spain were dominating the possession as De Rossi blocked a shot from Silva as the Manchester City midfielder tried to bend a shot into the far post.
Italy had their moments too. Cassano found himself in space, got the better of Pique and placed his shot just wide of the target.
Iniesta darted around from the left beats Napoli defender Maggio and crosses to the back post with Xavi lurking on the vicinity but Chiellini gets the all important flick and clears the danger.
Marchisio had a pop on goal from 22 yards but found his effort straight into the hands of Casillas. Minutes later, David Silva scythes a pass to Fabregas on goal, but the danger was cleared by the stretching legs of Bonucci.
Spain created another fine opportunity through Xavi and Iniesta combination. The later tried to lob over Buffon who was off his line, but it was slightly over hit.
In the closing stages of the first half Spanish skipper Casillas makes a smart save from Motta’s header from six-yards out.
When play is resumed after the break the trio of Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas engineered an attempt on goal. The ex-Arsenal man shoots from 25 yards forcing Buffon to reflex his arms.
The best chance of the match fell to Iniesta. This time Fabregas feds him through but could only direct his effort inches wide from the far post.
Balotelli took ages to shoot after robbing the ball from Ramos. The Real Madrid defender got back to toe the ball away from him.
He was replaced by Di Natale shortly and the veteran striker slipped through on goal by a scintillating pass from Pirlo; finished with great aplomb and composure.
However, Fabregas restored parity after slamming the ball past Buffon. David Silva the architect in this case.
There was time for Torres to make an impact. He gets in on goal with his first meaningful action but couldn’t get pass Buffon who tackles cleanly to snatch the ball from him.
Di Natale got a golden chance late on to grab the brace. He met Giovinco’s pass and volleyed wide from six yards when he had only the keeper to beat.
Spain had one final chance though. Iniesta dancing around got past three blue shirts tees up with Xavi who gives a lay off to Alonso. The ex-Liverpool man’s shot squirms wide of the far post.
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