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  • Date:10 Jun 2012
  • Kick-off:17:00
  • Venue:PGE Arena - Gdansk
  • Francesc Fabregas (64)
  • Antonio Di Natale (60)

Live Commentary


Italy will take more positives from that result than Spain. Prandelli's team showed tremendous work-rate and tactical discipline. They certainly look capable of qualifying for the knock-out stages on this evidence.


Torres squanders possession as Spain try to mount one last attack.


That's full-time.


Alonso unleashes a blistering strike from 20 yards, but the Spain midfielder's effort has too much curl on it and sails wide of the target.


Italy deserve a draw here and they are content to sit back and hold what they have now. Can Spain find a way through?


Antonio Nocerino comes on for Motta as Prandelli looks to add fresh legs to the Italian midfield for the final minutes.


We are into three minutes of stoppage-time.


Italy defender Christain Maggio becomes the seventh booking of the match as he tugs back Iniesta.


Navas gets in down the right side of the Italy penalty area, but he can't quite manage to get enough power or accuracy on his cross and Buffon claims it.


Torres is found wanting again as he sprints onto a through ball. Instead of taking a first-time shot, he checks back and tries to lob the advancing Buffon. His effort floats over the bar and Torres responds by putting his hands to his head in disbelief.


Torres is crowded out as he looks to break trhough on the right edge of the penalty area. Nothing has gone his way so far and now he's booked for elbowing De Rossi.


Italy look more dangerous since Di Natale's arrival. He's an intelligent forward and must be odds-on to start their next match against Croatia.


Free-kick for Spain in a good position 25 yards out.


Xavi takes it but can't clear the wall and Italy are able to scramble clear.


Di Natale threatens a second goal as he drifts into space to meet a cross eight yards out. He's got a good sight of goal but hooks his volley wide of the far post. That one could come back to haunt Italy.


That was the kind of poor play that has haunted Torres for much of his spell at Chelsea. He won't want that to be his biggest contribution to this match.


Within seconds of coming on, Torres should put Spain ahead. He makes a good run to beat Italy's offside trap, but his attempt to go around Buffon isn't the most confident and the Italy goalkeeper stays on his feet to make a tackle before hoofing clear.


Torres is on in place of Fabregas.


Navas picks out Alba at the far post, but the Spain defender's volley is wide of the mark. He should have done better there.


Torres is changing out of his training top and looks ready to come on for Spain.


Spain's fans are greeting their team's flowing moves with chants of 'Ole, Ole'. It feels like the momentum is with Del Bosque's men now.


Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci earns a yellow card for a nasty lunge on Iniesta.


Both teams make changes, but still Spain don't send on a forward. Instead Del Bosque introduces Sevilla winger Jesus Navas for Silva, while Italy replace Cassano with Parma striker Sebastian Giovinco.


What a response from Spain as Fabregas equalises within four minutes. Italy switch off at the back for the first time and Fabregas takes advantage. The Barcelona star makes an excellent run to meet Silva's pass and buries an emphatic first-time shot past Buffon from close-range. Game on.


Goal for Spain!


That's redemption for Di Natale. He has only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes and has already made amends for missing a penalty in Italy's shoot-out defeat against Spain in Euro 2008. No wonder he celebrated with such glee.


It's an instant impact from Di Natale. The substitute times his run perfectly to surge onto Pirlo's defense-splitting pass and bends a fine finish past Casillas from the left wide of the penalty area.


Goal for Italy!


Spain's slow build-up is easy on the eye but sometimes plays into Italy's hands as it allows them to regroup.


That's Balotelli's last contribution as Prandelli decides to send on 37-year-old Udinese striker Antonio Di Natale after another under-whelming display from the City forward.


Balotelli wastes a golden opportunity to open the scoring as he steals possession from Sergio Ramos on the touchline and bursts into the area. The Italian could either shoot or pass to Cassano, but instead he dwells on the ball and Ramos gets back to make a crucial tackle.


Iniesta displays great pace and determination to beat De Rossi to a through ball. The angle is tight for the Barcelona midfielder though and Buffon is able to push his powerful strike away for a corner.


Fabregas has a sight of goal and his shot brings a decent stop from Buffon. Moments later Xavi miscues an effort well wide.


No changes for either side yet, but Fernando Torres is warming up. The Chelsea striker finished the season strongly for his club and might fancy his chances of making an impact here.


Spain haven't been at their best but they won't be panicking yet. After all, they started the 2010 World Cup with a defeat against Switzerland and we all know how that turned out for Del Bosque's troops.


We're back underway in the second half.


That's half-time. It's similar to Sunday's Germany v Portugal clash so far. Cagey but with the potential to explode into a real thriller.


Casillas makes a superb one-handed save from Motta as the Italian midfielder gets away from Sergio Busquets and directs a header towards the far corner.


With half-time approaching, Italy will be satisfied with the way they have subdued Spain. They can't afford to switch off for a minute though as Iniesta shows with a neat piece of control and a stabbed shot that whistles narrowly over.


Another Spanish raid breaks down as Xavi's chip eludes Fabregas at the far post. It will be interesting to see how long Del Bosque leaves it before sending on a striker in the second half.


Balotelli is booked for leaving a foot in on Jordi Alba. It's slightly harsh, but the Italian has been grumbling about various decisions for several minutes and tested referee Viktor Kassai's patience once too often there.


Claudio Marchisio shows great technique to meet Cassano's cross with a stinging volley from the edge of the area. However, it's just too close to Casillas to trouble the Spain captain.


Cassano cuts in from the left flank and lashes a shot towards Casillas. The Spain keeper doesn't gather it cleanly and Balotelli rushes in for the rebound but can't get a shot away.


Iniesta is at the heart of all Spain's best moves at the moment and he drives in a shot that Buffon saves with the minimum fuss.


Now it's Xavi's turn to make a threatening run into the box, but he can't get to Iniesta's cross as Giorgio Chiellini heads away for a corner.


Iniesta is closed down quickly as he tries to latch onto Silva's pass in the penalty area and moments later the first Mexican wave of the day breaks out in the stands.


Spain's lack of a natural striker is hurting them so far. Plenty of possession but no cutting edge.


Cassano works just enough space for a shot that flashes past the far post. That's a warning for Spain that this won't be a walkover.


Spain defender Alvaro Arbeloa catches Italy's Thiago Motta, prompting some theatrical rolling around from the Paris Saint Germain midfielder.


After Spain's initial dominance, Italy are coming into it now. They looked assured on the ball and are defending cleverly.


De Rossi has been everywhere so far as he tries to keep Spain at bay and he produces another good block to deny Silva's shot.


Pirlo takes the free-kick, whipping a low effort past the wall, but Casillas is equal to it and saves away to his right.


Free-kick for Italy in a central area 25 yards out. This is a good chance to test Casillas.


Buffon is called into action for the first time, but the Italy goalkeeper hardly needs to break sweat as he saves Silva's weak effort after another dangerous Spanish surge.


Italy work their way forward for the first time and Balotelli tries his luck with a long-range effort, but it loops wide of Iker Casillas's goal.


Italy are forced into some desperate defending as Spain advance into the penalty area with a dizzying exchange of passes. It takes a well-time tackle from De Rossi on Fabregas to stem the tide.


Del Bosque's formation looks very fluid, with Iniesta, Silva and Cesc Fabregas already taking it in turns to fill the most advanced role in the Spanish attack.


As ever, Spain are moving the ball about with ease. They haven't got through yet but are already probing menacingly.


Spain win a corner in the opening seconds after De Rossi slides in with a crunching tackle. Italy clear the set-piece easily enough.

We're underway on a sunny afternoon in northern Poland.

The large swathes of red across the stadium suggest Spanish fans have travelled in bigger numbers than their Italian counterparts.

Balotelli, never shy of catching the eye, has a blond hair stripe for the occasion. Can Italy's Manchester City striker provide more substance than style for once?

The players have emerged from the tunnel to a raucous reception from the sell-out crowd at the 44,636-capacity PGE Arena in Gdansk. Now it's time for the national anthems.

Italy: Buffon, Chiellini, De Rossi, Bonucci, Giaccherni, Marchisio, Pirlo, Thiago Motta, Maggio, Cassano, Balotelli. Subs: Sirigu, Ogbonna Obienza, Balzaretti, Abate, Di Natale, Barzagli, Borini, Montolivo, Giovinco, Diamanti, Nocerino, De Sanctis.

Spain: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Alonso, Silva, Fabregas, Iniesta. Subs: Valdes, Albiol, Javi Martinez, Juanfran, Pedro, Torres, Negredo, Mata, Llorente, Santi Cazorla, Jesus Navas, Reina.

Interesting selection from Del Bosque, who opts for six midfielders and not a single recognised striker in his Spanish starting eleven. Italy also take a gamble, with De Rossi, usually a midfielder, set to start as a defensive sweeper.

Of course, the Italians, who won the European Championships in 1968, have been known to thrive when it's least expected. At the 2006 World Cup, Italy appeared in turmoil after the first round of match-fixing allegations rocked Serie A, but they bonded together in adversity and ended up world champions. It was a similar situation in 1982 when Paolo Rossi returned from a two-year ban for match-fixing and led the team to World Cup glory.

Unlike his predecessors, Prandelli has few world-class stars to call on. His key players are aging Juventus duo Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon and Roma's Daniele De Rossi. More worryingly, Pradelli's strikers are the wildly erratic Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano.

In contrast, Italy -- for so long one of the giants of the international arena -- travel with expectations and morale at an all-time low after some lean years in Serie A and yet another match-fixing scandal, which broke on the eve of the tournament and forced Italian coach Cesare Prandelli to ditch left-back Domenico Criscito after he was caught up in the controversy.

Spain's hopes of retaining the title have been hit by injuries to Carlos Puyol and David Villa, which ruled the Barcelona duo out of the tournament. But, with the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Xabi Alonso to call on, there's no doubting Del Bosque's squad has enough talent to become the first team to win the Euros either side of a World Cup triumph.

Since that cathartic last eight victory over the Azzurri, Spain have gone on to win the European Championships and the World Cup. Now Vicente Del Bosque's men arrive at Euro 2012 rightly regarded as hot favourites after winning all eight of their qualifying matches.

For Spain, facing Italy will bring back fond memories of the defining moment in their transformation from perennial under-achievers to the world's best team. Back in Euro 2008, Spain's players were still unsure of themselves, but a quarter-final victory over Italy, then the world champions, was the catalyst to cast off their insecurities and there's been no stopping them since. As Spain defender Gerard Pique says: "That win changed our thinking. We used to play not to lose, now we play to win."

Hello and welcome to day three of our live updates from Euro 2012. It's been an enthralling tournament so far and today's games promise to provide more thrills and spills. First up, it's the eagerly anticipated Group C clash between holders Spain and Italy.

Not the dominant start many expected from Spain. That said they responded well to Di Natale's opener and should improve once they work out who to play up front.

**Provisional teams until kick-off


  • Vicente Del Bosque Coach
  • Iker Casillas Goal
  • Alvaro Arbeloa Defender
  • Gerard Pique Defender
  • Sergio Ramos Defender
  • Jordi Alba Defender
  • Xavi Midfielder
  • Sergio Busquets Midfielder
  • Xabi Alonso Midfielder
  • David Silva Forward
  • Francesc Fabregas Forward
  • Andres Iniesta Forward
  • Victor Valdes Substitute
  • Jose Manuel Reina Substitute
  • Raul Albiol Substitute
  • Javi Martinez Substitute
  • Juanfran Substitute
  • Santiago Cazorla Substitute
  • Pedro Substitute
  • Alvaro Negredo Substitute
  • Juan Manuel Mata Substitute
  • Fernando Llorente Substitute
  • Jesus Navas
  • Fernando Torres


  • Cesare Prandelli Coach
  • Gianluigi Buffon Goal
  • Leonardo Bonucci Defender
  • Daniele De Rossi Defender
  • Giorgio Chiellini Defender
  • Christian Maggio Midfielder
  • Claudio Marchisio Midfielder
  • Andrea Pirlo Midfielder
  • Thiago Motta Midfielder
  • Emanuele Giaccherini Midfielder
  • Mario Balotelli Forward
  • Antonio Cassano Forward
  • Salvatore Sirigu Substitute
  • Morgan De Sanctis Substitute
  • Angelo Ogbonna Substitute
  • Federico Balzaretti Substitute
  • Ignazio Abate Substitute
  • Andrea Barzagli Substitute
  • Riccardo Montolivo Substitute
  • Alessandro Diamanti Substitute
  • Fabio Borini Substitute
  • Antonio Di Natale Substitute who played
  • Sebastian Giovinco Substitute who played
  • Antonio Nocerino Substitute who played

Match Report

Holders Spain held to draw by Italy
Holders Spain were held to a 1-1 draw by a dogged and determined Italy in Gdansk on Sunday in the opening Group C match at the European Championship.
Italy took the lead on 61 minutes through substitute Antonio Di Natale only minutes before the world champions equalised through Cesc Fabregas.
But Chelsea striker Fernando Torres missed two glorious late chances after coming off the bench to replace the goalscorer.
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.
Both coaches sprung a surprise with their team selections as Vicente Del Bosque opted to go without a striker, playing Fabregas between Andres Iniesta and David Silva.
Italy's Cesare Prandelli opted for Juventus reserve Emanuele Giaccherini in the left wing-back position, a role the forward is far from used to playing.
Italy were the better side in the first period as Spain clearly lacked a striker and were guilty of over-playing on several occasions.
Italy kept it tight at the back when defending, but they showed no fear when claiming possession and attacked with gusto.
Andrea Pirlo had the first sight of goal when his low free-kick was palmed away by Iker Casillas on 13 minutes.
Antonio Cassano then hit a shot on the turn from a tight angle that screwed wide of the far upright.
Iniesta had a low shot that Gianluigi Buffon gathered comfortably at his near post but otherwise Italy were far the more dangerous.
Casillas spilled a shot from Cassano before Mario Balotelli was harshly adjudged to have fouled Gerard Pique as they tangled over the follow-up.
Cassano then picked out Marchisio, whose first time volley was spectacular but straight at Casillas.
The chance of the half came in time added on as Cassano crossed from the right and Thiago Motta's header from point-blank range was somehow kept out one-handed by Casillas.
Spain started much brighter after the restart however with Fabregas forcing a sprawling save out of Buffon just minutes into the second period.
Soon after, Iniesta's shot from the left was deflected just past the far post.
But then a Sergio Ramos mistake presented Balotelli with a free run on goal but the Italian was too casual and the Spaniard rushed back to redeem his error.
It was Balotelli's last contribution as he was promptly hauled off for Di Natale, and not before time.
Di Natale's first act was to beat the offside trap on 61 minutes to meet Pirlo's precise through ball and clip home beyond Casillas.
That seemed to wake up the holders, though, and a clever move saw the ball shift quickly from Iniesta to Silva and then the breaking Fabregas to finish under Buffon.
Del Bosque finally brought Torres on for Fabregas but when presented almost immediately with a one-on-one chance he overran the ball and Buffon cleared the danger.
A dinked pass from Sebastian Giovinco, on for Cassano, freed Di Natale but his volley on the stretch went well wide.
From another Italian defensive mistake Torres was presented a glorious opportunity but instead of playing in the unmarked Jesus Navas, he chipped Buffon and the bar.





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