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Lippi Hails Team Effort

  • Reuters, Thursday, June 22, 2006 3:31 PM
Italy Coach Marcello Lippi praised the "terrific spirit" demonstrated by the Italians in their victories over Ghana and the Czech Republic. "This team has ... probably the most fighting spirit I have had in any team," Lippi said, adding that finishing top of Group E was important for several reasonsone of which is the likelihood the Italians have safely avoided Brazil in the next round. "Sooner or later, you're going to have to play one of the favorites," he said. Substitutes Marco Materazzi and Filippo Inzaghi got the goals that earned Italy its 2-0 victory over the injury-hit Czechs. Materazzi replaced the injured Alessandro Nesta in the first half, and Inzaghi was brought on for Alberto Gilardino after 61 minutes. Karel Brueckner offered several excuses for the Czech's listless performance: " We lost a lot of players before the game and had suspensions which hurt us," he said. "Playing with 10 men was just too difficult today." Milan Baros, the Aston Villa striker who came back from injury to play 60 minutes, was a non-factor; Tomas Rosicky, who lit up the United States in the first game, was again, nowhere to be found, as the Italian midfield dominated possession.

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