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Monday, 3 June, 2002, 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK
Great start for hot-shot Vieri
Vieri celebrates the first of his two goals
Vieri celebrates the first of his two goals
In-form Christian Vieri shrugged off his individual heroics after his double strike gave Italy a comfortable 2-0 win over Ecuador in their World Cup opener.

Vieri showed why he is one of the favourites to land the tournament's Golden Boot award as he swiftly found his scoring touch.

Goals in the seventh and 27th minutes took the Inter Milan striker's tally to seven goals in six World Cup matches after his five goals at France '98.

"To score two goals in the first half of the first game feels good," Vieri said.

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This is just the first step on a difficult road and we still have a long way to go
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Christian Vieri

"But the whole team played well, not just me. We have to be content.

"We played a good game, we managed to score two goals, and we didn't suffer that much which was important."

The 28-year-old has struggled with hamstring and ankle injuries over the past year, as well as a serious knee ligament problem.

And he dedicated his brace to the medical staff who have helped him recover the form that led Inter to pay 32million for him three years ago.

"I want to give my goals to the doctors of the national team," he said.

"They have helped me to get back to fitness and that meant I was able to score those two goals."

Vieri was quick to play down Italy's chances of claiming a record-equalling fourth World Cup however.

"This is just the first step on a difficult road and we still have a long way to go," Vieri added.

"We have just won one game and if you want to lift the World Cup you have to win seven matches."

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The humidity and the closed-in atmosphere left one breathless
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Italy manager Giovanni Trapattoni

The decision by Giovanni Trapattoni to play Roma's Francesco Totti up alongside Vieri paid off handsomely, the two combining sweetly for Vieri's opener.

"All the team was in form," added Totti. "We produced some beautiful play and could have scored more goals, but the Ecuador keeper made some good saves."

Trapattoni was understandably delighted as Italy, who had won just one of their last five opening games at World Cups, began in impressive fashion.

"I've been working with the players since 11 May and I was very satisfied with the way they played tonight," Trappatoni said.

"We took the lead immediately, after which everything became easier. In the second half we felt a bit tired, but we hung on in there.

"To start in a stadium like this in Sapporo wasn't easy. The humidity and the closed-in atmosphere left one breathless."


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GROUP G
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MEXICO 3 +2 7
ITALY 3 +1 4
CROATIA 3 -1 3
ECUADOR 3 -2 3




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