Antonio Di Natale came off the bench to score in Italy’s UEFA EURO 2012 opener against Spain and admitted it was “very emotional” after his unwanted role in their quarter-final loss to the same team four years ago. Although Spain then equalised for a 1-1 Group C draw, the Italy players were all happy with the outcome.
Antonio Di Natale, Italy forward
I’m happy about the goal, [Andrea] Pirlo gave me a great ball and I took my chance. It was very emotional for me, especially because four years ago I missed a penalty in the shoot-out against Spain, so it was very good for me to score today. I think it was a great game, there are several young players in this team who are eager to show how good they are and how far they can go. It’s nice to play for this team.
Andrea Pirlo, Italy midfielder
I think we played a very good game but we knew we could do it, the result is good because we were facing a very strong team even if I think we did enough to win it. It’s a pity we conceded the equaliser so soon after taking the lead, otherwise it could have been a different result.
Spain have a great midfield, but ours is good as well, it was a nice battle there. It was a good pass [for the goal] but Di Natale made a great move so it made everything easier for me. Now we have to keep working hard because we have two other important and difficult games in just a few days.
Daniele De Rossi, Italy midfielder
This result gives us confidence because we were facing a very strong side, if not the strongest of all. I think we had the right approach with no kind of fear. I knew I could do well in defence, but I must thank my team-mates who gave me a great hand.
I was a bit worried when I saw Spain were playing without a real striker. I thought it would have been more difficult for me without someone to mark. However, we have still achieved nothing, you don’t qualify with one point and we are fully aware that it will be difficult against any opponents here.
Gianluigi Buffon, Italy goalkeeper
I’m happy about the point but mostly about our approach. We took to the pitch ready to give them a battle and we did well. I think we played better than them for 60 or 70 minutes, then we lived dangerously in the final stages of the game but it’s normal against a team like Spain. You cannot avoid giving them some chances. I just touched it with my fingers [when Andrés Iniesta shot from close range], it was a good save.