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Del Piero shines in Italy triumph

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Vieir (left) and Gilardino celebrate the opening goal against Moldova

LECCE, Italy -- Italy, who booked their place at the World Cup finals last weekend, beat Moldova 2-1 in their final Group Five qualifying match.

Alberto Gilardino scored the winner five minutes from time, controlling Aimo Diana's deflected cross before rifling the ball into the roof of the net.

Gilardino's AC Milan team-mate Christian Vieri had given Italy the lead with a close range strike in the 71st minute only for Alexandru Gatcan to equalise with a left-footed drive.

Alessandro Del Piero, who was on the bench for the 1-0 victory against Slovenia last Saturday and has been told by coach Marcello Lippi his place in the World Cup squad is not guaranteed, boosted his chances of going to Germany with an excellent performance for the Azzurri.

Moldova had nothing but pride to play for with Norway having already claimed the runners-up spot.

Lippi made 10 changes from the starting side that beat Slovenia in Palermo.

Fabio Grosso was the only player to keep his place, while Del Piero played as a withdrawn striker behind Vincenzo Iaquinta and Christian Vieri.

Italy began well with Vieri spurning two half-chances early on for the three-times former world champions.

The hosts had the ball in Moldova's net in the 25th minute but the goal was ruled out for offside.

Del Piero's free kick was tipped onto the crossbar by Serghei Pascenco and Vieri headed in the rebound only to be denied by the linesman's raised flag.

Moldova's first real threat came moments later when Italy keeper Morgan De Sanctis palmed away Serghei Covalciuc's fierce angled drive.

The home side finished the first-half on top with Pascenco equal to Daniel De Rossi's rasping 20-yard drive.

Italy finally broke the deadlock 19 minutes from time when Vieri put the finishing touch to a superb dribble into the penalty box by Del Piero.

However, Moldova were on level terms five minutes later when Gatcan's low shot from the edge of the box eluded Morgan De Sanctis' grasp.

Gilardino missed an easy chance with a wayward header before making amends in the 85th minute with a clinical finish.

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