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 FIFA World Cup™ Group F game against Paraguay.
Having played well in the first half at Green Point Stadium, the 2006 winners were shocked when Wigan-bound defender Antolin Alcaraz rose to head home a 39th-minute free-kick. Italy's blushes were spared to some extent, however, as Daniele De Rossi slid in to punish a mistake by Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar after 63 minutes and take a point from the match.
"We have to grow and continue the work we have done," said Lippi. "We are only at the beginning, I am sure we will succeed. 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.
"There was a good reaction on our part. We equalised. The only thing I regret is normally matches of this type we win. 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."
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."