Just when it looked like Italy might lose its first home World Cup qualifying match, the Azzurri found a way to keep the streak alive.
Daniele De Rossi's late penalty kick canceled out Vitolo's opener, and Italy came back for a 1-1 draw against Spain in their qualifier in Turin.
Both won their opening matches of Group G play, with Spain destroying Liechtenstein 8-0 and Italy getting by Israel 3-1 last month. With only the group winners guaranteed a place at Russia 2018 and the runner-up sent to a playoff, the head-to-head meetings between the two European powers will likely determine the automatic berth, making this early matchup all the more important.
It appeared it would go Spain's way. After a scoreless first half that was dominated, at least in possession, by Spain, the 2010 World Cup champs opened the deadlock. It took a blunder by Gianluigi Buffon, who whiffed on a clearance while racing off his line, gifting Vitolo a wide-open net. He didn't miss, scoring in the 55th minute off the pass supplied by Sergio Busquets.
Italy was given a lifeline through Sergio Ramos, though. The veteran Spanish defender tripped Eder in the Spain box, and after the referees conferred, a penalty was awarded. De Rossi calmly converted to make it 1-1 in the 82nd minute.
Spain and Italy are looking up at Albania, winner of both of its qualifying matches thus far, in the Group G standings. Spain is in second by virtue of a better goal differential.