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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 22:10 GMT 23:10 UK
Italy sink battling Morocco
Youssef Chippo
Chippo featured with the Moroccans
A first-half goal from Damiano Tommasi was sufficent to give ten-man Italy a hard-earned 1-0 victory over Morocco in a friendly at the Stadio Leonardo Garilli in Piacenza.

AS Roma midfielder Tommasi's well-worked goal was the highlight of another indifferent display by Italy, who still need a result next month in their last World Cup qualifier with Hungary to be sure of reaching the 2002 finals.

Inter Milan's former Everton defender Marco Materazzi began the move with a long ball and Stefano Fiore touched it on to Tommasi who played a one-two with Gianluca Zambrotta before scoring through the legs of goalkeeper Driss Benzekri.

The goal inspired Italy's best football and Parma striker Marco Di Vaio, making his debut, nearly made it 2-0 with a spectacular volley after a Zambrotta pass but his volley drifted just wide with Benzekri stranded.

Moustapha Hadji
Hadji did not take part
It was one-way traffic and next Fiore's cross was headed just over by Francesco Coco, who joined Barcelona from AC Milan last week.

But although Italy had the upper hand in the first period Morocco had the better of the second.

The North Africans came close to equalising in the opening seconds of the second period when Salaheddine Bassir escaped down the left flank but goalkeeper Francesco Toldo got his fingertips to his angled shot.

Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni was making liberal use of his substitutes and Morocco took advantage to step up the pace to the delight of a sizeable contingent of 'Atlas Lions' supporters.

Atalanta's Luciano Zauri replaced Zambrotta to become the third debutant of the evening alongside Di Vaio and Brescia defender Daniele Bonera who had both started the match.

Perugia midfielder Fabio Liverani, another substitute, carved out two good chances for Filippo Inzaghi and Di Vaio respectively but neither was taken.

Seven minutes before the end Juventus midfielder Alessio Tacchinardi was dismissed for using his elbow, and in the last minute replacement Adil Ramzi almost snatched an equaliser for Morocco but fired just wide.

"All told, this was a good and significant result," Italy coach Trapattoni said.

"This confirmed my feelings about Marco Materazzi and the debut of Daniele Bonera reassured me about the future."

"We had difficulty holding the centre in the first half but we came close to scoring several more times. We have to be content with this result," Tommasi said.

See also:

04 Sep 01 |  Africa
Liverani to face Morocco
17 Jun 01 |  Africa
Last four make it to Mali
29 Aug 01 |  Africa
Cup preparations hot up
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