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Insigne goal gives Italians major lift as De Gea's unbeaten run comes to an end

The result should give Ireland’s Group E opponents a confidence boost ahead of Euro 2016.

Spain'’s Aritz Aduriz, centre, scores past Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Spain'’s Aritz Aduriz, centre, scores past Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

Italy 1

Spain 1

ITALY FORWARD LORENZO Insigne ended David De Gea’s six-game unbeaten run in the Spain goal in a 1-1 friendly draw tonight that gave Ireland’s Group E opponents a lift ahead of this summer’s Euro 2016 in France.

Spain, who thrashed Italy 4-0 in the final of the 2012 European Championships, were on a seven-game winning run that had seen Manchester United goalkeeper De Gea keep a clean sheet in their last six outings.

But Vicente Del Bosque’s men were sorely lacking creation in Udine and failed to produce a single shot on goal in the opening half of a game for the first time since meeting Belarus in a World Cup qualifier in 2013.

Italy coach Antonio Conte had deployed a largely experimental 3-4-3 but after some early teething problems the 46-year-old coach, who will quit after this summer’s showpiece in France, must have been buoyed.

Insigne replaced Inter Milan striker Eder shortly after the restart and finished off a great move to toe-poke past De Gea on 67 minutes, although Italy’s joy was short-lived.

Only three minutes later Athletic Bilbao striker Aduriz slammed the ball into the roof of the net from a yard out when Gianluigi Buffon spilled Juventus team-mate Alvaro Morata’s header from a free kick.

Graziano Pelle was the centrepiece in Conte’s three-man attack but when the big Southampton striker held off Gerard Pique to set up Florenzi on the corner of the area, the Roma right-back’s low cross was straight at the ‘keeper.

Italy were into their stride and Candreva’s high, deflected cross found Emanuele Giaccherini unmarked on the edge of the box.

The Bologna man, given an ovation for a solid night’s work when he was replaced in the closing stages, hit a crisp volley that looked to be goalbound but it took a deflection off Mata.

Spain threatened briefly when Aduriz collected Eder’s mis-hit backpass to set up Morata on the left but the move was flagged offside, while at the other end Pelle controlled well to set up Eder for a soft volley that De Gea collected.

Del Bosque made two changes for the start of the second half with Juan Mata and Sergio Ramos replaced by Koke and Nacho respectively.

Italy Spain Soccer Italy's Graziano Pelle, right, and Spain's Ignacio Fernandez Nacho jump for the ball. Source: AP/Press Association Images

But Italy were soon in control. Eder was bundled off the ball after a promising run through the middle but on the follow-up his inviting cross had Spain in a panic as Marco Parolo powered in to header.

Insigne took little time to make an impact after he replaced Eder on 51 minutes, finishing off a great move by Giaccherini to force De Gea into action at his near post. From the corner, Leonardo Bonucci’s header from the corner went just wide.

Minutes later, Insigne had fans on their feet at the Friuli when he slid in to send Giaccherini’s cross past De Gea at his left post.

Juve’s defence was at fault when Morata drifted in behind to get his head to a free kick minutes later, and when Buffon couldn’t hold, Aduriz was quick to the rebound.

Italy enjoyed the lion’s share of chances in the closing period, when De Gea had to tip over a cheeky lob from Insigne and, with the added zip of Juventus striker Simone Zaza, were unlucky not to snatch the win that would instill confidence ahead of Tuesday’s away game with world champions Germany.

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© – AFP, 2016

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