Italy forward Lorenzo Insigne ended David De Gea’s six-game unbeaten run in the Spain goal in a 1-1 friendly draw on Thursday that gave Azzurri fans hope for 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 ‘keeper De Gea keep a clean sheet in their last six outings.
But Vicente Del Bosque’s men were sorely lacking creativity 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 35-year-old Athletic Bilbao striker Aduriz slammed the ball into the roof of the net from a yard out when Gianluigi Buffon spilled Juventus teammate Alvaro Morata’s header from a free kick.
Conte said: “I’m very satisfied with the lads’ performance, especially as we changed the tactical formation.
“They put into practice a lot of the things we worked on in recent days. I don’t want to talk about objectives for the Euro 2016. All we want to do is give it everything we have, and above all not to leave the pitch with any regrets.”
Italy midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini was one of several players to benefit from Conte’s quest to inject youth and energy into his new-look side.
After a solid performance he admitted: “I’ve played against Spain four times in the past five years and, to be honest, I’ve never seen them playing like that.”
Spain defender Cesar Azpilicueta, however, was quick to remind: “These are our last two friendlies before the Euro, and we want to prepare as best as we can.
“We’re the defending champions and we want to defend our title, even if we know it won’t be easy.”
It was a sluggish start at Udinese’s newly-refurbished Stadio Friuli but Lazio winger Antonio Candreva was particularly lively, keeping De Gea on his toes early on when his cross came off the post and then forcing the ‘keeper to parry his long-distance drive.
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 Mata and Ramos replaced by Koke and Nacho respectively.
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.