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2002 FIFA World Cup (tm)
Match Date
3 Jun 2002

Italy Italy 2 - 0 Ecuador Ecuador
(HT: 2 - 0)

Game Details
Sapporo Dome
Brian Hall (USA)

Assistant Referees
Hector Vergara (CAN)
Philip Sharp (ENG)

Game Events
# Date Player Event Period Mins H/A
1 3 Jun 2002 Christian Vieri Goal First Half 7 H
2 3 Jun 2002 Augusto Poroso Yellow Card First Half 14 A
3 3 Jun 2002 Christian Vieri Goal First Half 27 H
4 3 Jun 2002 Alex Aguinaga Player Out Second Half 1 A
5 3 Jun 2002 Carlos Tenorio Substitute In Second Half 1 A
6 3 Jun 2002 Ulises de la Cruz Yellow Card Second Half 4 A
7 3 Jun 2002 Cleber Chala Yellow Card Second Half 9 A
8 3 Jun 2002 Edwin Tenorio Player Out Second Half 14 A
9 3 Jun 2002 Marlon Ayovi Substitute In Second Half 14 A
10 3 Jun 2002 Cristiano Doni Player Out Second Half 19 H
11 3 Jun 2002 Angelo Di Livio Substitute In Second Half 19 H
12 3 Jun 2002 Luigi Di Biagio Player Out Second Half 24 H
13 3 Jun 2002 Gennaro Gattuso Substitute In Second Half 24 H
14 3 Jun 2002 Francesco Totti Player Out Second Half 29 H
15 3 Jun 2002 Alessandro Del Piero Substitute In Second Half 29 H
16 3 Jun 2002 Fabio Cannavaro Yellow Card Second Half 36 H
17 3 Jun 2002 Cleber Chala Player Out Second Half 40 A
18 3 Jun 2002 Nicolas Ascencio Substitute In Second Half 40 A

Match report
Striker Christian Vieri scored twice as Italy opened their World Cup challenge with a 2-0 win over Ecuador at the Sapporo Dome. Italy, one of the pre-tournament favourites, settled the match in the first half an hour with the South Americans looking overawed as Vieri and playmaker Francesco Totti ran rings around the World Cup debutants. In the second half, as Italy eased up, Ecuador were a more potent force and showed that they could yet prove a handful for their other Group G opponents Croatia and Mexico.
Vieri was off the mark after just seven minutes. Totti crossed from the left for the Australian-raised forward to side-foot the ball beyond Ecuador goalkeeper Jose Cevallos' despairing dive. The powerfully built Vieri, who scored five goals during the 1998 finals in France, was a constant menace and 20 minutes later a long pass was lofted over the Ecuadorean defence by Luigi Di Biagio, allowing Vieri to shrug off defender Ivan Hurtado, round the keeper and roll the ball home. Ecuador picked up their play in the second half and Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon had to react sharply to deny Agustin Delgado his nation's first World Cup goal in the final minutes of the match. The forward who plays for English Premiership side Southampton smashed a shot from inside the penalty area that Buffon palmed round the post.
Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni said a relatively untroubled buildup had paid off.
"I've been working with the players since May 11 and I was very satisfied with the way they played tonight.
"In the first half we played excellently against Ecuador and scored early - we looked very fresh. Mentally there was no doubt that we were ready for this match although when we eased up a bit in the second half Ecuador put us in a little difficulty.
"They were World Cup newcomers and that may have been a problem for them."
Skipper Paolo Maldini was also pleased, saying: "We did well - it was a good start - we put on a good show but obviously we still have to improve."
Italy are notoriously slow World Cup starters having only won one of their opening games in the five previous World Cups and Maldini, playing in his fourth finals, said: "The first game is always difficult but the pleasing thing was that we seemed a lot fresher than we have been."
Trapattoni had drafted in an additional defender, adding AS Roma defender Christian Panucci to the established trio of Maldini, Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Nesta as he seeks the rock on which to build a charge to the finals. In the first period that ploy worked to perfection with Ecuador looking rudderless in attack and Italy creating several opportunities but the Italian defence had more work at the start of the second half with the lively Edison Mendez blasting a shot past the post. The minnows began to mount more attacks, and won a succession of corners but failed to convert them into goals.
Italy struck back, Damiano Tomassi's strong drive forcing a save from Cevallos, and Cristiano Doni hit the bar from the resulting corner. Cevallos also punched away a rasping drive from Vieri, who was looking for a hat-trick to match the one scored here by Germany's Miroslav Klose against the hapless Saudis on Saturday. Alessandro Del Piero was introduced as a 74th-minute substitute, proving that a player who has fallen out of Trapattoni's plans has a role to play in these finals. As the minutes ticked away, Italy had the majority of possession in the futuristic stadium where Argentina play England on Friday until Delgado's late chance. Ecuador's Colombian coach Hernan Dario Gomez, now fully recovered from a gunshot wound last year, took strength from his side's second-half improvement.
"With our peformance in the second half we're not discouraged and we have the strength and the preparation to go on to the next match," he said.
With Mexico beating Croatia 1-0 earlier in the day, Italy go top of their group and face Croatia in Ibaraki, Japan, on Saturday, while Ecuador take on Mexico on Sunday.

(courtesy of dailysoccer)

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