New skipper Fabio Cannavaro has defended Italy from criticism of their peformance in Saturday’s 2-0 Euro 2004 win over Azerbaijan in Baku.

Italy opened their qualifying account with a victory provided by a first half own goal by Tarlan Almadov and second-half strike from Ale Del Piero. But that was not good off for an Italian media highly critical of the state of the domestic game.

Cannavaro, captain in succession to Paolo Maldini, said: “I cannot accept all the criticism. Out on the pitch it was a very tough game indeed.

‘If people do not think it was entertaining enough then they do not have their priorities right. Entertainment is never the first aim of the national team. The priority is always the result – and that is what we achieved.”
By Keir Radnedge