Spain's Fernando Torres (R) controls the ball next to Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon during their Group C Euro 2012 soccer match at the PGE Arena in Gdansk, June 10, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Juan Medina)
On Sunday, the Italian International Soccer Team stifled the Spanish Team in a 1-1 tie at the Euro 2012.
The tie represented the first time in 14 competitive matches that the defending Euro Champions and World Cup Champions have not won. The last time Spain lost was the first game of the 2010 World Cup against Switzerland.
Like Us on Facebook
Spain dominated the match and according to UEFA.com, the Spaniards controlled possession for 60 percent of the match with their trademark "tici-taca" style in which the team passes the ball around patiently while waiting for a defensive breakdown from its opponent. Spain also outshot Italy 18-10, with nine shots on target to Italy's six.
Spain was widely considered the favorite to win the match, but Italy played valiantly in the first half with a few strong chances for 21 year-old Mario Balotelli. In the second half, Balotelli took the ball from Sergio Ramos and had a breakaway in the 53rd minute. However, he waited too long for the release and was stifled by the Spanish defenders. He was subbed out moments later.
Italy then struck when 34 year-old Antonio Di Natale, fresh off the bench, took a nice feed from Andrea Pirlo behind the Spanish defense and chipped the ball past goaltender Iker Casillas at the 61st minute. It was Di Natale's 11th goal in just 38 matches for the Italian international team. At that point, it seemed that the defending champions might face the same fate they faced at the 2010 World Cup when they lost the first game to Switzerland. However, Spain responded almost immediately with a tremendous play that ended with David Silva finding Cesc Fabregas between the Italian defense to tie up the game at 1 in the 64th minute. The goal was Fabregas' ninth in 64 international matches.
After the tying goal, it seemed like Spain would eventually find a way to win. Substitute Fernando Torres came off the bench and created chance after chance. Moments after coming off the bench, he found himself on a breakaway, but a bad first touch got the ball away from him and Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon took the ball away easily. In the 84th minutes, Torres split the defense and found an open shot as Buffon challenged him at the top of the box. Torres chipped the ball over Buffon and the net. However, Spain would never find the game winner.
Italy and Spain now find themselves tied with one point a piece in Group C. However, that could change after Ireland and Croatia face off later Sunday afternoon. Spain and Italy will resume play on June 14. Spain will play against Ireland and Italy will take on Croatia.
Spain won the tournament in 2008 after defeating Germany 1-0. Two years later, Spain won the 2010 World Cup in South Africa despite being the only World Champion to lose the opening game of the tournament. If Spain wins the Euro 2012, it will be the first team to ever win three major tournaments in a row.