Italians happy with fighting draw

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Football News

Italy coach Marcello Lippi hailed the defending champions' "heart" as they came from a goal down to salvage a 1-1 draw from their first World Cup Group F game against Paraguay.

The 2006 winners were shocked when Wigan-bound defender Antolin Alcaraz rose to head home a 39th-minute free-kick, but Italy's blushes were spared after Daniele De Rossi slid in to punish a mistake by Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar in the 63rd minute.

"We created little danger compared to the volume of play. Italy is there, we are there mentally, we are there with our heart, we are there fully," said Lippi.

"I'm very satisfied with our performance, I'm very satisfied with the approach to the World Cup. Our opponent was described as being a very fierce opponent so I'm very happy.

"We have to grow and continue the work we have done.

"We are only at the beginning, I am sure we will succeed.

"There was a good reaction on our part. We equalised. The only thing I regret is normally matches of this type we win."

Lippi's opposite number Gerardo Martino admitted his side could not compete with the defending champions' passing accuracy at Green Point Stadium.

"We weren't terribly accurate when we moved the ball, especially due to Italy's play," he said. "Only a few times were we able to move the ball because we knew they would be that kind of opponent. But we also made it hard for them. It was very close."

Martino said of the pitch, previously criticised for being slippery: "The pitch was excellent, but it is true that it was very fast. But it was tipping down and the rain made it even faster."

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