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Thursday, 13 June, 2002, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Italians give thanks to Ecuador
Italy were not short of support against Mexico in Oita
Italy were not short of support against Mexico in Oita

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"We tried everything, but we didn't make it. Despite huge efforts, Italy didn't manage to get eliminated from the 2002 World Cup."

Italian sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport opts for irony as it introduces its match report of the 1-1 draw with Mexico.

Open Quote
In a World Cup in which favourites such as France and Argentina have already gone home, we should be happy to be still in the running
Close Quote
Corriere della Sera

"It was not magic by [Francesco] Totti, nor a goal by Saint [Christian] Vieri that saved us," the paper continued, "but rather Ecuador, who let us score two goals against them in the first game before deciding to lower the shutters against Mexico and Croatia."

In a commentary headlined "Del Piero and Ecuador save a bad Italy", La Repubblica says that the national team is "bungling" and in a "worrying physical shape".

It continues: "The game with Mexico ended in a 1-1 draw and Italy is flying to Korea, but it is not a flight that deserves applause.

"Rather, it is rather one of those cheap flights where you cross yourself on take-off."

La Repubblica praises goalscorer Alessandro del Piero, "who regained possession of the World Cup when it was already slipping from his hands".

For the paper, "a header by del Piero saved everything, Trapattoni's management team included, getting Italy back into an increasingly strange tournament".

For Milan's Corriere della Sera, the game was "90 minutes of suffering.

"But, in a World Cup in which favourites such as France and Argentina have already gone home, we should be happy to be still in the running."


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

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