Cesc Fabregas' 64th minute equaliser rescued a point for Spain as their European Championship defence began with a draw against Italy at the PGE Arena.

Angelo Di Natale gave the Italians an unlikely lead after an hour, curling past Iker Casillas, before Fabregas intervened, slamming in an equaliser four minutes later.

Both Fernando Torres and Di Natale missed chances to snatch an opening Group C victory, which is perfectly poised going into matchday two.

Cesc Fabregas
Fabregas leveled four minutes after Di Natale's opener.

Reigning champions Spain were aiming to kick-start their European Championship defence against an Italy side playing against the backdrop of domestic match fixing allegations and a poor run of form heading into the tournament.

Vicente Del Bosque opted to start without the misfiring Torres, in the absence of the injured David Villa, instead giving Fabregas license to spearhead the Spanish attack.

Amid a host of pre-tournament injuries and off the field scandal, Mario Balotelli was trusted with leading the line for Cesare Prandelli's side, who were looking to shut out Spain at the European Championship for a fourth successive occasion.

The holders' fluid front six, marshalled by Andres Iniesta and Xavi, dominated possession in the early going, with David Silva the main beneficiary, with several efforts forcing Gianluigi Buffon into a string of comfortable saves.

Instead, it was Italy's own schemer Andrea Pirlo who was dictating proceedings, and it was his pass that allowed Antonio Cassano to break free, with Iker Cassilas palming the AC Milan forward's bullet shot.

Cassano's club teammate Thiago Motta forced the Spanish captain into an even better save in the twilight of the first half when Emanuele Giaccherini's cross was flicked towards goal only for Casillas to turn the ball away.

Buffon was forced into two saves early in the second half, first keeping out Fabregas, before a fingertip stop denied Iniesta after being played in by his Barcelona teammate.

However, it was the 2006 World Cup winners who showed a clinical edge just before the hour mark when Pirlo played in substitute Di Natale, who had replaced Balotelli, for the Udinese forward to curl past an onrushing Casillas.

Their lead lasted just four minutes, as Iniesta combined with Silva, who found Fabregas, to slide the ball underneath Buffon for an instant reprieve.

Despite both having winnable remaining group games against Republic of Ireland and Croatia, neither side appeared content with a draw, with Torres, who replaced Fabregas, and Di Natale spurning opportunities to snatch all three points.

The Chelsea forward audaciously lobbed Buffon in the closing stages, only to see the ball sail over, before Claudio Marchisio exchanged passes with Di Natale, only to shoot straight at Casillas, as the opening Group C game saw the points shared.