Italy coach Roberto Donadoni has said his side did not deserve to lose in Spain, as they could only "stand and applaud" David Villa’s stunning late winning goal.
The world champions came close to taking the lead with Mauro Camoranesi hitting the bar and a Luca Toni goal controversially disallowed, but the game was decided late on by a fantastic volley.
"We were in the game and had some great chances, so did they, but we did not deserve to lose," Donadoni said after the 1-0 defeat in Elche. "We accept the result and there was little we could do about Villa’s goal, just stand and applaud such a moment of technique.
"Obviously when you make six substitutions in a game it affects the performance, but it was important to see how some players worked from the start."
Donadoni has been at the centre of controversy this week as he refused to sign a new contract that would see his job hinge on a successful Euro 2008 tournament.
"I do my work with passion and great effort, just like my players and my staff. The rest is all talk."
Defender Fabio Grosso, who impressed throughout the match, was disappointed that the side were defeated by such a late goal.
"There are regrets as we put in a good game. We knew Spain were a great team and they won with this fantastic goal, but that’s the way it goes.
"The coach will make his choices and they will be respected," said the Lyon left-back of his chances of being included in the Euro 2008 squad.
The home side enjoyed the lion's share of possession and scored the only goal but it was the world champions who created the better chances.
After the game Spain coach Luis Aragones praised his side and said they beat a top side tonight.
"Italy are an impressive team with the best defence in the world," said Aragones. "We were up against a great team, physically stronger than us, and the only way we could win was by dominating possession. We did, and that's where Spain were commendable."
Goalscorer Villa believes the triumph will be a big morale boost for a Spain side which has underachieved in recent tournaments. "We have beaten a very strong national team," he told Spanish television. "This is important.
"I always try to score when I hit it but this one was perfect and went straight in the corner. It was a great goal and was the icing on the cake for a match we deserved to win.
"In the last year-and-a-half we have been doing things really well and I hope this summer's European Championship will be ours," he added.
The victory extended Spain's unbeaten streak to 14 matches while it was Italy's first defeat since losing 3-1 to Hungary in a friendly in August.
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Source: C4 Football Italia