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Football: Brazil's goals still flow post Romario

GIOVANNI and Rivaldo scored first-half goals within a minute of each other as Brazil began their post-Romario era with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Andorra in St Ouen, France, yesterday.

Using Bebeto, who played the entire 90 minutes, in place of Romario, Brazil overran the tiny Pyrenees nation in their last international before the World Cup finals.

Giovanni gave Brazil the lead in the 26th minute and Rivaldo scored a minute later to put the four-times and defending world champions in control. Cafu added a third goal in the 53rd minute.

Italy's hopes that Alessandro Del Piero would be ready to shine in France suffered a setback with the striker confessing that he is only half-way to full fitness and will not rush his return from injury.

The Juventus marksman was included in Italy's squad, even though a lingering right thigh strain has kept him away from training sessions for two weeks.

"It's true I feel good, but on a scale from one to 10, right now I am at five," Del Piero said. "It is clear that to play I have to be in good form. I don't want to take risks.

"There is definitely no room for false steps. The World Cup is long; it certainly does not end with the game against Chile."

Del Piero, who scored a career-best 31 goals for Juventus last season, was earmarked to start in attack alongside either Christian Vieri or Fabrizio Ravanelli. He was injured in the European Cup final defeat by Real Madrid on 20 May.

Croatia, already without several key players, will now have to do without the striker Alen Boksic, because of knee surgery. With fellow forward Igor Cvitanovic dropped by coach Miroslav Ciro Blazevic for refusing to follow orders during training, the Croats now have only four strikers.

The Jamaican striker Walter Boyd, who has been criticised by coach Rene Simoes for his poor form and for missing games, has been included in their squad after apologising for his behaviour.

The defender Sinisa Mihajlovic scored in the second half to give Yugoslavia a 1-0 victory over fellow World Cup qualifiers Japan in an evenly balanced warm-up match in Lausanne yesterday.

Hidetoshi Nakata, of Bellmare Hiratsuka, missed two good chances for Japan before Sinisa, who plays for Sampdoria, scored in the 71st minute. There was plenty of action at both ends in the first half, with Yugoslavia looking their most dangerous at corners.

It was Japan's final game against another national side before the finals. Yugoslavia end their preparations against Switzerland in Basle on Saturday.

Yugoslavia, coached by Slobodan Santrac, face the United States, Germany and Iran in France. Japan, under Takeshi Okada, meet Argentina, Croatia and Jamaica. The team have been training behind closed doors at their base in the lakeside town of Nyon.