Vieri strike lifts Italian spirits

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The Independent Football

If Christian Vieri struck the only goal of the game as Italy, who face Wales in Milan in a Euro 2004 group nine qualifying tie on 6 September, beat Germany last night.

The Inter Milan striker scored after 17 minutes in Stuttgart as Italy secured victory over one of their traditional rivals in a friendly watched by a capacity 50,382 crowd.

Italy dominated the first half, before injury-riddled Germany mounted a strong comeback in the second and missed a number of opportunities.

Italy's goalkeeper, Gianluca Buffon, made a string of saves to protect his team's victory, the first over Germany in 11 years.

Iceland defeated the Faroe Islands 2-1 to go top of group five - which includes Germany and Scotland - to keep alive their chances of qualifying for a major championship for the first time.

Chelsea's Eidur Gudjohnsen put Iceland, who now lead the group by a point from Germany, in front in the fifth minute, ending a solo run into the box with a low shot. Petur Marteinsson hit a close-range winner in the 72nd minute, after Rogvi Jacobsen had headed the home side level.

Adrian Mutu, who has yet to make his Chelsea debut after his transfer from Parma, scored both goals as Romania beat Ukraine 2-0.

Steve Marlet, of Fulham, who may soon join Marseille on loan, scored in France's 2-0 victory over Switzerland. Arsenal's Sylvain Wiltord scored the other.

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