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   03 June, 2002 | 1900 IST



France get the blues

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Vieri double gives Italy victory

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Simon Evans

Italy striker Christian Vieri struck twice to give his team a comfortable 2-0 win over Ecuador in their opening World Cup group G match on Monday.

The Italians showed why they are among the favourites with an efficient display against the South American side making their first appearance in the tournament. Italy top the group standings, ahead on goal difference of Mexico, who beat Croatia 1-0 earlier on Monday.

Christian Vieri celebrates his first goal.Vieri, who scored five goals in five games at the 1998 World Cup, quickly confirmed that he will again be one of the dangermen with a powerhouse display.

Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni's decision to play Francesco Totti in an advanced role alongside Vieri paid off handsomely.

The pair combined to open the scoring in the seventh minute -- Totti screwing the ball back from the byline into the path of the onrushing Vieri who swept the ball past Cevalloss with a clinical left-foot finish from 10 metres.

Totti, living up to his billing as Italy's key creative force, went close to a goal of his own just four minutes later, crashing a 20-metre shot just wide after a smart turn.

There was little work for the Italian defence, but when Ecuador's main marksman Agustin Delgado did find the slightest opening he was swiftly surrounded by three defenders.

Vieri doubled the Italian advantage in the 27th minute, outpacing Ulises De la Cruz as he chased a long ball over the top, and although Cevallos blocked the shot with his legs, the ball spun goalwards and Vieri had the simple task of knocking it into an empty net.

Ecuador coach Hernan Dario Gomez brought on Carlos Tenorio at the break in a bid to bolster his attack but Italy rarely give up a two-goal lead and typically took few risks in the second half.

Alessandro Del Piero came on for Totti with 16 minutes remaining to claim his 50th cap as the Italians wound down the clock in a confident start to their campaign.

Italy had won just one of their last five opening games at World Cups.

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