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Vieri Leads Italy Over Ecuador

June 3, 2002

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SAPPORO, Japan (AP) _ Christian Vieri scored two first-half goals to give three-time champion Italy a methodical 2-0 victory over Ecuador on Monday night (Monday morning EDT) in the World Cup.

Vieri, picking up where he left off in the last World Cup, used his powerful left foot to redirect a cross from Francesco Totti in seventh minute.

Exactly 20 minutes later, Vieri took control of a long pass and again beat Ecuador goalkeeper Jose Cevallos. This time, the striker’s initial shot was partially blocked by Cevallos, but the ball kept moving toward the goal. Vieri, unchallenged, gave it another kick from inches away for emphasis.

At France ’98, Vieri also led Italy’s attack, scoring five goals in five matches.

Ecuador, a tournament newcomer, had trouble penetrating Italy’s experienced backline throughout the game, despite the presence of powerful forward Agustin Delgado.

Midfielder Edison Mendez had one of the best chances for the surprise qualifiers out of South America. But his blast from outside the penalty area in the 52nd minute missed the mark.

Italy seemed content to let Ecuador control the ball in the second half, but made sure to stop the South Americans from creating any significant scoring chances.

Midfielder Cristiano Doni, making his World Cup debut, had Italy’s best second-half chance, hitting the crossbar on a jumping attempt off Totti’s corner kick in the 58th.

The match was played indoors before a crowd of 31,800 at the Sapporo Dome.

Italy plays Croatia on Saturday, and Ecuador meets Mexico on Sunday.

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