Euro 2012: Spain 1-1 Italy - Cesc Fabregas salvages point
SPAIN midfielder Cesc Fabregas hit out at the state of the pitch in Gdansk after the defending European champions were held to a 1-1 draw by Italy yesterday evening.
Scorers: Spain - Fabregas (64); Italy - Di Natale (60)
The Barcelona midfielder grabbed the equaliser for Vicente Del Bosque’s men shortly after Antonio Di Natale had put the Azzurri ahead after 61 minutes. Spain had late chances to win it, most notably through Fernando Torres, but Italy held on for a deserved point in the Group C opener.
Fabregas, who was preferred to Torres in the starting line-up in a 6-4-0 formation, felt the slow pitch at the Arena Gdansk prevented Spain from playing their high-tempo passing game.
He said: “I don’t want to complain, but we deserve much more. It is lamentable that we have to play on a pitch like this.
“It has been a difficult match, the most difficult one we have in the group against a very strong rival. After going behind it is not a bad result. We are still dependent on ourselves. We have shown character and played well.”
Del Bosque was not displeased with his side’s performance.
He said: “We have worked hard and put in a good effort. We are relatively satisfied with our work and the result.”
On the inclusion of Fabregas, the former Real Madrid manager insisted he had made the right call. “We wanted to have superiority in the midfield so that we could have possession and arrive higher up the pitch. David Silva, Cesc and Andres Iniesta arrived very well from the second line of attack and I think they did very well in a lot of moments. The plan didn’t go badly.”
Spain at times looked slack in possession, particularly in the first half, but Del Bosque gave credit to Italy’s pressing game.
“We knew Italy were going to press us high and they wanted to take the initiative. I had already warned that they are very dangerous and that has been the case,” he added.
Del Bosque opted to utilise the ‘false number nine’ formation which saw them line-up without a recognised striker and although there were moments of promise from offensive midfielders Fabregas, Andres Iniesta and David Silva, Spain lacked a focal point until Torres’ introduction after 74 minutes.
The Udinese veteran Di Natale made an impact moments after replacing Mario Balotelli as he opened the scoring within four minutes, latching on to Pirlo’s pass before slotting past Casillas.
A minor shock seemed on the cards but world and European champions Spain hit back quickly. A flicked pass with the outside of his left boot from Silva picked out Fabregas and he made no mistake with a crisp finish under Buffon. Del Bosque finally introduced a striker in Torres and although the former Atletico Madrid man looked sharp, he still appeared short on confidence in front of goal.
Spain: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Alonso, Silva (Jesus Navas 65), Fabregas (Torres 74), Iniesta. Subs Not Used: Valdes,Albiol,Javi Martinez,Juanfran,Pedro, Negredo,Mata,Llorente,Santi Cazorla,Reina.
Italy: Buffon, Chiellini, De Rossi, Bonucci, Giaccherni, Marchisio, Pirlo, Thiago Motta (Nocerino 89), Maggio, Cassano (Giovinco 65), Balotelli (Di Natale 56). Subs Not Used: Sirigu,Ogbonna Obienza,Balzaretti,Abate,Barzagli, Borini,Montolivo,Diamanti,De Sanctis.
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