BARI - Alberto Aquilani's deflected
shot gave Italy a morale-boosting 2-1 win over Spain on
Wednesday, in a friendly between the last two World Cup winners.
Italy started stronger and took the lead with a well-worked
goal from Riccardo Montolivo in the 11th minute, but the world
and European champions levelled against the run of play when
Xabi Alonso netted from the penalty spot.
Spain looked the more likely to add to the scoreline in the
second period until Aquilani's shot deflected off Raul Albiol's
foot to leave Victor Valdes wrong-footed six minutes from time.
"We started a little timidly but we have put in a great
effort especially in the second half," Spain coach Vicente del
Bosque told reporters, after another patchy performance in a
"I'm generally pleased when you consider the setbacks we
suffered [injuries to Fernando Torres, Gerard Pique and Andoni
Iraola]. It was when we were playing at our best that the defeat
Italy tore into a weakened Spanish side showing greater
urgency and aggression. Domenico Criscito lashed a shot against
the post and soon after provided the pass for Montolivo to get
behind the visitor's defence and score with a sweet lob.
Iker Casillas had to make good saves from the lively
Guiseppe Rossi and Antonio Cassano, who caused the Spanish
defence all kinds of problems, but the visitors had a lucky
break to equalise.
Fernando Llorente, who had come for a concussed Torres early
on, was pushed in the area and Alonso put the scores level in
Both sides rang the changes in the second half, one of the
most notable substitutes being the debut of Barca's promising
20-year-old midfielder Thiago Alcantara for Spain.
Del Bosque's side dominated with David Silva and David Villa
leading Spain forward until Aquilani set up an exciting finish
with his fortuitous shot.
"While we had the legs and freshness of thinking we played a
good game then we lost a bit of order and we had to work
harder," Italy coach Cesare Prandelli told reporters. "But we
showed personality and courage."
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