Rusty Italy get off to slow start


HOLDERS Italy began the defence of their trophy with a share of the spoils against a plucky Paraguay in a disappointing encounter in Cape Town.

The Italians started slowly and were made to pay when the South Americans took a shock lead on 39 minutes when Antolin Alacarez out-jumped Fabio Cannavaro to head his first international goal.

This prompted boss Marcello Lippi to switch to a 4-4-2 after the break and soon the Italians began to find their feet. And it was no surprise when the Group F favourites levelled on 63 minutes after Paraguay keeper Justo Villar failed to deal with a corner from the left and Daniele De Rossi bundled the ball home.

Satisfied with the point, Paraguay shut up shop late on, but Italy lacked invention in the attacking third to prise them open.

The Italians also drew their opening match four years ago before going on to win the trophy, and with New Zealand and Slovakia in the group, both they and Paraguay would still be confident of reaching the last-16.

But like countryman Fabio Capello, Lippi still has plenty of work to do.