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Defending champions Spain held 1-1 tie with Italy

(Xinhua)

08:24, June 11, 2012

GDANSK, Poland, June 10 (Xinhua) -- World champions and Euro 2008 champions Spain were held to a 1-1 tie by Italy in the Euro 2012 Group C opener here on Sunday.

Di Natale, who substituted Mario Balotelli in the 56th minute, gifted Italy 1-0 lead in the 60th minute when he slipped through on goal by a wonderful pass from Andrea Pirlo and found the corner of the net with a cool finish.

But Spain striker Cesc Fabregas tied the score only after four minutes. With a fine passing, Silva slid Fabregas in and the latter slammed the ball past Italy keeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Balotelli, the rising star striker from new English Premier League champions Manchester City, stunned the world in the 54th minute when he got a solo run through a tackle. But he hesitated at the goalmouth without any clear action. Then a chasing defender came to ruin the scoring chance.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli forgave Balotelli, telling the post-match press conference that he would not punish the Man. City striker.

"He is still a young player who may make mistakes at any time, " Prandelli said. "At that moment, he may thought about several plans but failed to choose the right one."

He noted that it was his pre-plan to send in Di Natale to replace Balotelli, which had nothing to do with Balotelli's mistake.

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