International friendly: Spain see off resilient Italy with a 1-0 win in Madrid
Pedro's second-half strike handed Spain a narrow victory over Italy in Wednesday's international friendly in Madrid.
Last Updated: 05/03/14 11:46pm
The Barcelona forward struck the only goal of the game in the 63rd minute in a match that the world champions dominated for long stretches.
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque handed Diego Costa his national team debut.
The Atletico Madrid striker - who coincidentally made his Brazil debut in a friendly against Italy - was included in the starting XI and turned in a solid performance in his club's stadium, the Vicente Calderon.
A minute's silence was observed prior to the game in memory of former Atletico and Spain coach Luis Aragones, who passed away last month.
Italy, without injured striker Mario Balotelli, were at the mercy of Spain's long spells of possession.
However, the Italians almost broke the deadlock in the third minute when Alessio Cerci's cross flew 10 yards before hitting the far post.
Spain were fortunate because the ball bounced across the face of the goal and into the path of keeper Iker Casillas, who fell on it to extinguish the threat.
At the other end, Pedro's effort from 30 yards was kept out by Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Spain kept Italy in their own half and in midway through the first half, Andres Iniesta warmed the hands of Buffon with a hard drive from just outside the box.
Spain wasted a good chance shortly after when a perfect cross from Cesar Azpilicueta found Cesc Fabregas in the heart of the area but the Barcelona midfielder struck his effort way off target.
Daniel Osvaldo almost punished Spain before the half-hour mark when he got past his marker and struck the ball from 20 yards just wide of the far post.
Before the interval, Pedro went on a dazzling run on the right and dribbled past two Italian defenders, only for his dangerous cross not to find a team-mate in the box.
Italy veteran Andrea Pirlo came on in the second half and showed his class minutes later when he spotted Osvaldo in the box but Jordi Alba made a vital clearance.
Spain finally broke through in the 63rd minute after a great play from Iniesta and David Silva put pressure on the Italy defence, leaving Pedro to strike a left-footed shot from the heart of the area past Buffon.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli made a double substitution with 22 minutes remaining with strikers Ciro Immobile and Mattia Destro entering the pitch.
In the 78th minute, Alba did well to clear a dangerous ball in his own area with Immobile ready to pounce.
With 10 minutes remaining, Costa's diagonal shot went wide.
Buffon kept out substitute Jesus Navas' goal-bound attempt in what was the last chance of the match.