- Associated Press - Thursday, March 6, 2014

MADRID (AP) - Overcome by nerves before his Spain debut, Diego Costa did little to shake them with his performance in Wednesday’s 1-0 victory over Italy.

Diego Costa started the friendly at the familiar Vicente Calderon Stadium, where the Atletico Madrid striker’s 27 goals have the Spanish club competing for league and Champions League silverware.

Pedro Rodriguez scored a second half winner as Spain’s diminutive midfielders - led by David Silva - guided Spain to victory rather than the brawny, physical Diego Costa up front.

Diego Costa managed a pair of decent scoring chances with a first-half shot blocked from inside the area before spraying a cross-goal effort wide of the far post after the break.

But the Brazilian-born striker - a naturalized Spanish citizen - lacked his usual confidence on touch.

“The first game is not easy,” Diego Costa said. “I’m happy, but I know I can give a lot more. I can bring my qualities with Atletico to the team.”

Diego Costa combined well with Andres Iniesta early on before seeing his 20th-minute opportunity blocked.

Until spraying a cross-goal shot past goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and the far post in the 80th, Diego Costa watched a number of balls skip over his feet. Some of his tentative play inside the area looked distant from the testy, riled-up player who tests opponent’s patience while trying to keep his own temper under control.

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

Del Bosque was encouraged by his new recruit’s debut, although he warned the squad could still change before he decides his team for the June 12-July 13 tournament in Brazil.

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


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