Italy routs Germany 4-1

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Italy routed World Cup host Germany 4-1 in a friendly on Wednesday, improving its unbeaten streak to 16 matches.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:38 IST
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Italy routed World Cup host Germany 4-1 in a friendly on Wednesday, improving its unbeaten streak to 16 matches. Alberto Gilardino, Luca Toni, Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Del Piero each scored before Robert Huth notched Germany's lone goal in the 82nd. The last time Italy scored four goals against Germany was the Azzzurri's 4-3 extra time win in the 1970 World Cup semifinals. "This is a big injection of confidence," Italy coach Marcello Lippi said. "I wanted a solid night of work, that was the plan. I'm glad we're moving in the right direction". Injury woes There were worries that Italy would struggle without injured playmaker Francesco Totti, but Gilardino and Toni scored in the first seven minutes. Totti's AS Roma teammate De Rossi added another in the 39th and Del Piero - who started in place of Totti - connected in the 57th. Totti is out for up to three months following ankle surgery. Doctors say he should recover in time for the June 9-July 9 World Cup. Without Totti, Lippi opted for a three-forward lineup of Del Piero, Toni and Gilardino. "Tonight we showed we can play with three strikers," Lippi said. Precise kicks Germany's youthful side looked slow and methodical compared to the Azzurri, which utilised precise free kicks and frequent counterattacks. "Days like this happen in sport and football, when things go in the wrong direction," Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann said. "They gave us a lesson and our spirit is down but it's better this happens 100 days from the World Cup than at the World Cup". Decent shot Del Piero's free kick in the fourth minute set up the first goal, with Gilardino converting a rebound off Fabio Cannavaro's header. Three minutes later, Gilardino carried the ball upfield on a counterattack and passed to Toni, who converted into an empty net. The Florentine fans erupted for Toni's seventh goal for Italy. The tall striker has also scored a league-best 22 goals for Fiorentina in Serie A this season. Klinsmann rose from the bench to complain in vain for an offside call. The crowd was still celebrating when De Rossi headed in Italy's third goal. Germany's only decent shot in the first half was a mid-range effort by Werder Bremen forward Miroslav Klose that goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon blocked in the 24th. Chance to score Germany had another chance in the 56th but Bernd Schneider's long shot skimmed just over the crossbar and, a minute later, Del Piero crouched down to head in a pass from Mauro Camoranesi to make it 4-0. Huth scored from amid a crowd of players inside the area. Italy has not lost since falling 1-0 to Slovenia in a World Cup qualifier in October 2004. The Azzurri are 12-6-2 since coach Marcello Lippi took over from Giovanni Trapattoni after the 2004 European Championship. While Wednesday's game was Italy's last before it is scheduled to submit its World Cup roster on May 15, Germany plays the United States in Dortmund on March 22. Lineups: Italy: Gianluigi Buffon, Cristian Zaccardo, Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Nesta, Fabio Grosso, Mauro Camoranesi, Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi, Alberto Gilardino, Luca Toni, Alessandro Del Piero. Germany: Jens Lehmann, Arne Friedrich, Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker, Robert Huth, Torsten Frings, Michael Ballack, Sebastian Deisler, Bernd Schneider, Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose. (AP)

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