Lorenzo Insigne scored one and very nearly won it for Italy in an impressive 1-1 friendly draw with Spain.
The Azzurri were missing many key players in this warm-up for Euro 2016, including Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli, Claudio Marchisio, Marco Verratti, Andrea Pirlo and Sebastian Giovinco. Antonio Conte unveiled a new 3-4-3 formation and recalled Thiago Motta for the first time since the 2014 World Cup. Vicente Del Bosque was without Sergio Busquets, but started Juventus striker Alvaro Morata and 35-year-old Athletic Bilbao star Aritz Aduriz.
Italy had the first chance when Matteo Darmian sparked Antonio Candreva’s counter and the roll across for Graziano Pellè was intercepted by a desperate Sergio Ramos, risking an own goal.
David De Gea got down quickly to palm a Candreva screamer round the upright from distance, then the Lazio man shrugged off Cesar Azpilicueta and Pellè just failed to meet it.
There was also a comical moment when the linesman accidentally clattered into Del Bosque, sending the Spain Coach to the ground.
Candreva was wreaking havoc down the right and on his cross Emanuele Giaccherini’s volley was deflected wide by Juan Mata. Pellè’s angled drive was too weak to trouble De Gea, but Sergio Ramos had a good chance with his header from a corner.
Gigi Buffon’s only intervention was on Aduriz, but the veteran had already been flagged offside on a Morata through ball. For the first time since October 2013 against Belarus, Spain failed to get a single shot away in the opening 45 minutes.
Spain moved to 4-4-2 after the break and Eder wasted a golden opportunity on the counter, allowing Juanfran to close him down.
Lorenzo Insigne, Simone Zaza and debutant Federico Bernardeschi were introduced. Napoli talent Insigne almost scored in his first appearance for almost two years, a strike palmed round the far post by De Gea on the counter.
From the resulting corner, Leonardo Bonucci’s header flashed inches wide. Insigne spread to the right on another rapid move and Florenzi’s angled drive was kept out by a De Gea one-handed save.
Italy eventually found a way through with a well-worked move. Bernardeschi’s slide-rule pass found Giaccherini down the left and he rolled it back across the face of goal for Insigne to come sliding in. It was the Napoli talent’s second Azzurri goal in his first appearance since the 2014 World Cup.
The celebrations lasted just two minutes, as Morata – who was clearly offside – forced a close-range save from Buffon and Aduriz blasted the follow-up into the roof of the net.
Insigne was fired up and his delightful lob was only kept out by a desperate flying De Gea save under the bar. Gerard Pique was also booked for blocking Simone Zaza from going clear with a handling offence.
Morata came sliding in just unable to meet a David Silva assist and Napoli midfielder Jorginho was given a brief Italy debut.
Italy 1-1 Spain
Scorers: Insigne 68 (I), Aduriz 70 (S)
Italy: Buffon; Darmian, Bonucci, Astori; Florenzi (De Silvestri 89), Thiago Motta, Parolo (Jorginho 89), Giaccherini (Antonelli 79); Candreva (Bernardeschi 60), Pellè (Zaza 60), Eder (Insigne 51)
Spain: De Gea; Juanfran (Jordi Alba 79), Sergio Ramos (Nacho 46), Piqué, Azpilicueta; Fabregas, San José, Thiago Alcantara (Isco 60); Mata (Koke 46), Morata (Alcacer 86), Aduriz (Silva 71)
Ref: Aytekin (GER)