That Andrés Iniesta was the Carlsberg Man of the Match in Spain's opening Group C game should not really have been a surprise to anyone.
The man who finished Spain's last tournament with the goal which made La Roja world champions started where he left off in South Africa – not just in the Arena Gdansk but on the Gniewino training ground. Iniesta, as he showed against Italy, has both the pace and the trickery to open up even the tightest, meanest defence.
"It was and always is a privilege watching Iniesta play," said former Portugal midfielder Maniche, as he presented him with the Carlsberg Man of the Match award. "I think that almost all Spain's attacks were played through him and after a performance like that it was very easy to choose him as Man of the Match. He played a superb match, as he always does. I congratulate him on winning of this trophy."
Right from Spain's first opening of the match, when Iniesta cracked a volley down to Gianluigi Buffon's right hand post, the Barcelona man had been 'enchufado' - plugged in. But with Italy leading 1-0, as Iniesta explained himself: "It was fundamental that we got back on terms immediately so that Italy couldn't close the game down and keep us out."
Three minutes had passed since Antonio Di Natale opened the scoring and Iniesta drew two markers to him leaving David Silva in space with time to feed Cesc Fabregás to score. Iniesta had already drawn a sweet save from Buffon in the second half when the Italian just nudged a fierce drive past the post with a glancing touch of his glove.
The draw was not too dispiriting for Iniesta, who said: "We drew because we were up against a very strong side, one of the favourites, with great players in their team. It was a hard-fought match, which was a tough one to play in – the ball didn't move well because of the pitch conditions, but we are confident that in the future we will do better.
"Of course we wanted to win, but that’s football," he added. "It's difficult, and as I said, we were facing a great team tonight; we will go into the next matches with the highest intensity possible, and we want to make it into the next round."
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