Football: Rare French win over Italy

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ERIC CANTONA enjoyed a victorious debut as captain of France last night, leading his country to a 1-0 win over Italy in a friendly international in Naples.

Monaco's Yuri Djorkaeff scored the winner just before half-time to give the French a well-deserved first victory on Italian soil in 82 years. The 25-year-old Djorkaeff chipped the ball over the advancing Gianluca Pagliuca after David Ginola had sliced open the home defence with a fine through ball.

In front of a disappointing crowd of 15,000, the Italians showed few glimpses of the form which had seen them beaten only once in their previous 19 matches. Without the injured Giuseppe Signori and Roberto Donadoni, Italy's attack failed to disturb an impressive French defence, in which Milan's Marcel Desailly was outstanding.

Belgium's World Cup preparations also suffered a setback, with an embarrassing 1-0 defeat by Malta in a friendly in Valletta. The winner came in the 35th minute from Carmel Busuttil, who plays for the Belgian club, Genk, and is Malta's only foreign-based player. He collected a through pass from the veteran captain, Raymond Vella, and beat Belgium's goalkeeper, Michel Preud'homme.