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The Real Madrid midfielder was impressed with the Azzurri, and refused to criticise Vicente Del Bosque's decision to send his team out without a recognised striker

Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso praised their Italian opponents after the European champions were held to a 1-1 draw in the opening game in Group C.

Vicente Del Bosque’s side had to come from behind after substitute Antonio Di Natale’s goal, and Cesc Fabregas duly obliged with an equaliser just three minutes later.

Speaking after the match, the Real Madrid midfielder insisted that a draw was a creditable result against Cesare Prandelli’s side.

"We are not surprised by our opponents,” he told AS. “We knew they were a good team, a very complex one.

"When they scored, the game became difficult, but we had the peace of mind to get the draw and keep on pushing.

"It was a shame not to have won, but you must not underestimate Italy."

"The important thing was not going behind, but now we realise that there is little margin for error."

Spain raised some eyebrows after lining up without a recognised striker in the team, but Alonso felt that midfielder Fabregas did a fine job in an unfamiliar role up front.

"There is much to say about it, but I was not surprised at all,” said the former Liverpool man.

“He did a great job up top and that's not easy. He scored the goal after showing great movement of a 'nine'. He has confidence and we now have options.

"It was important to equalise quickly."

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