A vastly improved second half performance enabled World Champions Italy to recover from a goal down to earn a 1-1 draw with Paraguay at a rain swept Green Point Stadium in Cape Town.
Venue: Green Point Stadium, Cape Town
Officials Referee: Benito Archundia (Mexico)
Assistants: Hector Vergara (Canada) and Marvin Torrentera (Mexico)
4th: Joel Aguilar (Slovenia)
Yellow cards: ITA - Camoranes PAR - Caceres
Red cards: None
Italy have only once lost their opening World Cup game and that record remains thanks to a second half performance which went some way to redeeming a lethargic first forty five minutes.
Italy started brightly and looked on top for most of the half without particularly being threatening with Paraguay content to defend in depth.
The Azzurri were too one paced to trouble the South Americans who gained in confidence as the half wore on.
Italy whipped in a few dangerous set pieces but these were competently dealt with by their opponents.
Then on 38 minutes with their first chance of the match Paraguay took the lead as Italy half-heartedly defended a free kick.
Antolin Alcaraz whipped in a free kick from deep and Antolin Alcaraz rose between two Italian defenders to head past a flat footed Gianluigi Buffon.
The second half did not start well for the Italians as Buffon was replaced by Federico Marchetti but a couple of substitutions around the hour mark turned the game as coach Marcello Lippi reverted to 4-4-2 and Italy looked a different team.
Paraguay suddenly did not look as comfortable as shown by their keeper Justo Villar who made an error for the Italians equaliser after 63 minutes.
Simone Pepe’s in-swinging corner from left was totally missed by Villar who punched thin air allowing the ball to travel through to Daniele De Ross who volleyed home from six yards.
Still The Azzurri pressed as Paraguay looked vulnerable at the back but the nearest they came to a winner was an 82nd minute effort from 30 yards by Riccardo Montolivo which the keeper did well to push around the post at full stretch.
1. Gianluigi Buffon (Marchetti, 45)
19. Gianluca Zambrotta
5. Fabio Cannavaro
4. Giorgio Chiellini
3. Domenico Criscito
6. Daniele De Rossi
15. Claudio Marchisio (Camoranesi, 59)
22. Riccardo Montolivo
7. Simone Pepe
11. Alberto Gilardino (Di Natale, 72)
9. Vincenzo Iaquinta
12. Federico Marchetti (GK)
2. Cristian Maggio
8. Gennaro Gattuso
10. Antonio Di Natale
13. Salvatore Bocchetti
16. Mauro German Camoranesi
17. Angelo Palombo
18. Fabio Quagliarella
20. Giampaolo Pazzini
21. Andrea Pirlo
23. Leonardo Bonucci
14. Morgan De Sanctis (GK)
1. Justo Villar
6. Carlos Bonet
21. Antolin Alcaraz
14. Paulo Da Silva
3. Claudio Morel Rodriguez
13. Enrique Vera
15. Victor Caceres
16. Cristian Riveros
17. Aureliano Torres (Santana, 60)
18. Nelson Haedo Valdez (Santa Cruz, 68)
19. Lucas Barrios (Cardozo, 76)
12. Diego Barreto (GK)
2. Dario Veron
4. Denis Caniza
5. Julio Caceres
7. Oscar Cardozo
8. Edgar Barreto
9. Roque Santa Cruz
10. Edgar Benitez
11. Jonathan Santana
20. Nestor Ortigoza
23. Rodolfo Gamarra
22. Aldo Bobadilla (GK)