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Spain's striker Villa upsets Italy

Latest update : 2008-03-27

Spain's 1-0 victory against world champions Italy suggest the team is a top contendor for the Euro 2008. FC Valencia's striker David Villa scored the winning goal in the last minute of the friendly.

David Villa scored a stunning left-foot volley to give perenial under-achievers Spain a morale-boosting 1-0 victory over Italy here on Wednesday.

In a match between two of the favourites for the Euro 2008 title in June in Austria and Switzerland it took a moment of genius from the Valencia star to settle the affair.

In fairness, though, neither side showed much to suggest they would be the team to look out for in the summer in what was at times a cagey, uneventful match.

Spanish coach Luis Aragones said the better side had won.

"We deserved to score even if the match was finely balanced," said Aragones.

"Italy are a difficult adversary."

However, the ever enigmatic coach refused to say whether the squad for the Euro 2008 finals would be effectively the one he had selected for this match.

"I do not know whether that is the definitive squad or not. There is still time before the championships. I am not a divine being."

His Italy counterpart Roberto Donadoni claimed his side had deserved more than they got.

"It was a good match and we didn't deserve to lose," he said.

"But it was a great goal and all we can do is congratulate him."

Donadoni, a former elegant attacking midfielder who was part of the Italy side that reached the 1990 World Cup semi-finals, refused to be drawn on his contract situation. The Italy's boss's deal runs out at the end of June and he has not signed an extension.

"I don't know what to say, there's nothing to say," he said. "I'm doing my job with passion and committment.

Italy actually had the ball in the net on 13 minutes but Bayern Munich striker Luca Toni's header was mysteriously disallowed.

Spain were next to threaten but Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon came to the visitors' rescue twice in quick succession on 37 minutes.

First he blocked a shot from Liverpool striker Fernando Torres and then he was alert to stop a poked finish from Arsenal playmaker Cesc Fabregas on the follow-up.

Chances were few and far between but six minutes after the break world champions Italy came within a lick of paint of taking the lead.

Lyon full-back Fabio Grosso got down the left and crossed into the centre where Argentina-born Juventus midfielder Mauro Camoranesi smashed his volley onto the bar before substitute defender Raul Albiol blocked Toni's follow-up with his face.

Camoranesi had another couple of half chances as Italy took the ascendancy but the Spanish back line held firm.

But the goal came 14 minutes from time as Fabio Cannavaro failed to clear the danger properly from Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta's speculative long ball forward.

Villa set himself on the edge of the area and waited for Cannavaro's headed clearance to drop before thrashing a volley into the top corner.

Late on Villa had another chance to extend the lead from a glorious long pass from Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso but Buffon was out quickly to narrow the angle and block with his legs.

Date created : 2008-03-27