Mon, 11 Jun 2012 08:23:17 GMT | By AP

Euro 2012: Spain fight back to draw; Croatia thrash Ireland

It was a gripping Sunday evening in Euro 2012 as World Champions Spain kicked off their campaign with a fighting draw against defensive powerhouse Italy. In the other encounter, Croatia handed Ireland a hard lesson

Euro 2012: Spain fight back to draw; Croatia thrash Ireland

Warsaw: Title holder Spain and Italy played out a high-class 1-1 draw at the European Championship on Sunday, before Croatia beat Ireland 3-1 in their tournament debuts.

The winners of the past two World Cups brought different styles into the Group C opener at Gdansk, Poland, but matched each other, trading goals in the second half.

Italy's three-man defense soaked up Spanish passing moves before taking the lead through substitute Antonio Di Natale in the 61st minute.

Spain started without a traditional center forward, using Cesc Fabregas as the attacking spearhead, and the Barcelona midfielder equalized in the 64th.

Spain vs. Italy is always billed as a heavyweight bout and the teams did not disappoint.

Spain's short-passing specialists swarmed over the Italian half of the field early on without worrying goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

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