- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

MADRID (AP) - Pedro Rodriguez stole the spotlight from debutant Diego Costa by scoring Spain’s second-half winner in a 1-0 friendly victory over Italy on Wednesday in a rematch of the 2012 European Championship final.

David Silva’s second-half introduction opened up Spain’s attack and the Manchester City midfielder was involved in the move that finished with Pedro squeezing a powerful shot under goalkeeper Gianlugi Buffon in the 63rd minute.

Italy was more conservative than in its 4-0 defeat by the world champions in the Euro 2012 final in Kiev, with two first-half scoring opportunities the best it could muster in the friendly match.

Diego Costa - a Brazilian native - had a muted debut, with the Atletico Madrid striker squandering two decent chances and generally looking a subdued version of his prolific club self.

“I’m very happy to have finally played for Spain, and to win,” Diego Costa said. “The first game is not easy. I’m happy but I know I can give a lot more.”

Spain dominated Italy to stretch its unbeaten run to 31 games in the last international friendly date before teams announce their squads for the World Cup in Brazil, from June 12-July 13.

Spain started slowly, using its possession and patient passing game in search of openings after Alessio Cerci floated a shot over goalkeeper Iker Casillas and off the far post four minutes into his debut for the Azzurri.

Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa had chances after that before Pablo Osvaldo shot over the bar on the half hour mark for the visitors.

That was it for Italy’s opportunities as Silva came off the bench after the break to unlock Italy’s defense, putting Thiago Alcantara through to force a stop from Buffon before sending a shot wide in the 51st.

Silva’s run onto Andres Iniesta’s slick backheel into the area was cut off but Pedro ran on to the ball to score his 14th goal for country.

“The victory helps us gain more confidence for the World Cup,” Pedro said at the Vicente Calderon Stadium. “I feel good, I’m comfortable in the team and the coach believes in me.”

Italy lost midfielder Tiago Motta to injury soon after and, despite coach Cesare Prandelli’s intentions to equalize through substitutions, it was Diego Costa who sprayed a chance wide in the 80th.

Diego’s integrating into the team and little-by-little he’ll get used to playing with the team,” Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said. “No player can have problems adapting to our style of play.”

The European champions, playing in their second, black jersey, paid homage to former coach Luis Aragones before kickoff with a banner dressing the stands alongside a performance of Puccinni.


Follow Paul Logothetis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PaulLogoAP

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