Cannavaro upbeat despite Spain defeat

<-- Fabio Cannavaro (right)

On familiar turf in Spain, Italy defender Fabio Cannavaro was left to reflect on a performance that showed promise ahead of UEFA EURO 2008™, even if they did lose to a "beautiful, unstoppable shot".

Stunning goal
With a close-fought game seemingly meandering to a draw in Elche last night, David Villa finally ended Italy's resolve. With 12 minutes remaining, the Spain substitute unleashed a sumptuous volley, giving goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon no chance as it fizzed into the top corner. "Villa's goal was very beautiful, an unstoppable shot," said Real Madrid CF centre-back Cannavaro, his thoughts echoed by his coach Roberto Donadoni who added that "when you see a goal like Villa's you just have to stand up and clap your hands".

Unique style
Italy had a first-half effort from Luca Toni scrubbed out due to a foul by Cannavaro, and the man now in his second season in Italy believes he and his team-mates can draw a lot of positives from the game. "We proved we are a good team even if we lost," said the Azzurri captain. "We have our own style. Perhaps we don't always retain possession like Spain but we try to go deep and we caused a lot of problems with our tactics here."

Harsh defeat
Italy's next outing will be against Belgium in Florence on 30 May, ten days before they open their UEFA EURO 2008™ campaign against the Netherlands. Donadoni believes his charges are on track to add the European crown to the 2006 FIFA World Cup. "We had our chances [against Spain] to score but unfortunately we didn't capitalise," said the 44-year-old. "Spain also created a few opportunities but I don't think our defeat was merited. I'm not worried because we played well."

Impressive run
Spain counterpart Luis Aragonés will have few worries either as the Selección extended their unbeaten run to 14 matches at the Manuel Martínez Valero Stadium. It also made it five games without conceding, though they were perhaps more impressed at beating Italy's back line. "Italy are an impressive team with the best defence in the world," said Aragonés, who gave a debut to Liverpool FC defender Álvaro Arbeloa. "We were up against a great team, physically stronger than us, and the only way we could win was by dominating possession. We did, and that's where Spain were commendable."