Italians left the happier with a point


CLEARLY DISAPPOINTED by last night’s 1-1 draw with Italy, the man of the match, Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta, did not want to even think about his side’s next game against Ireland in Gdansk next Thursday.

Asked by the Irish Times just how his side would prepare their encounter with Ireland, Iniesta said: “The name of the opponent is not the most important thing, it is our form and concentration that will matter because the next match will be very different, but they key remains with us, we’ve got to improve . . . This is a bitter sweet feeling, drawing tonight because we would obviously have preferred to start with a win, but Italy is a good team with very good players. In the circumstances, a draw here was a good result for us”.

Not surprisingly, of the two team coaches, it was Italian Cesare Prandelli who looked the happier after the game, claiming that Italy can only get better after this performance, adding: “The draw was right result, OK, and I am satisfied. Obviously, it was a pity that they equalised almost immediately but we’ve got to keep on playing like that, we’ve got to improve . . . Our state President (Giorgio Napolitano) came down to the dressing room to compliment us and that was important . . .”

Asked if he had substituted Manchester City Mario Balotelli, just seconds after the striker had waster a clear chance, because he was dissatisfied with the player, Prandelli refuted the suggestion: “I took off Balotelli so as to change things in attack, bring in a more direct player like Di Natale and that worked okay. I have absolutely no complaints about Mario, he did what I asked him to do. As for his miss, those things happen.”

Spanish coach Vicente Del Bosque rejected the notion that Italy had surprise him, saying: “ I wasn’t surprised by the Italians, they are an excellent team and they have some quality players. We made some mistakes and we always knew that this Italy would not be just a defensive team.

“They played very well and I think they are a very good team but we showed our qualities too. But Italy, well they always play well when they need to . . . Our goal was fundamental for us, we equalised very quickly and we were calmer afterwards. We played our best football in the final minutes of the match”