The opening game at the impressive 15,000 capacity Linkou Gymnasium of the FIFA Futsal World Championship Chinese Taipei 2004 saw the European Champions Italy beat the USA 6-3.

Italian coach Alessandro Nuccorini was pleased with the result: "There is always pressure on us as the World No. 1 team, every game is like a final. The USA are a very strong physical outfit so I was pleased with the win."

The relatively comfortable scoreline was a tactical triumph for Nuccorini whose touchline volume was only matched by the excitable USA assistant coach Vava Marquez.

The first half started slowly but grew in intensity. The US team looked in control early on but the Italians gradually wrested the initiative away.

The different approaches to the game were clear from the outset. The Italians set their team up with the Brazilian-born Bacaro up front as the lone hold-up player. He was faced with the rock of the US squad the 36-year-old Sean Bowers. they played a controlled passing game while the USA relied on strength and power with a dash of skill from Johnny Torres.

The Italians pass and move game had the ability to drag the American defence out of position but the U.S.A.'s quick breaks also created chances.

With two teams whose strengths lie at the back it was likely to be tight. But it was the USA who broke the deadlock in the 8th minute. A mistake by Pellegrini let Torres in down the right flank and his left-foot shot beat Italy keeper Gianfranco Angelini to his right.

Italy came back strongly to score twice before the break. The first after nine minutes when a defensive mix-up saw US keeper Scott Hileman unable to pick the ball up and Adriano Foglia slotted home left-footed.

Foglia began to exert his influence on the half - his partnership with the marauding Edgar Bertoni brought the second goal as Bertoni burst down the left and rifled a shot into the roof of the net. Even Angelini joined in the celebrations.

The USA equalised after half-time for 2-2 - skipper Sean Bowers on hand to stab home. It only proved the signal for Italy to decisively take control. If the first half had belonged to Bertoni, the second was Alexandre Zanetti's. He kept the ball under pressure and then probed for openings with patience and creativity.

The Azzurri went two goals ahead through superb strikes. First Grana broke in from the left and smashed into the far top corner, then Foglia repeated the dose, stepping inside Lee Tschantret and blasting home for 4-2.

Back the USA came, with a move straight off the training pitch. Angelini was forced to let the ball go out for a corner which Torres took. Tschantret ran over the ball and Pat Morris struck it low into the bottom corner.

That was the last USA success. Nuccorini's men restored their two goal advantage after a Zanetti long shot flew past Pat Howes and deceived Hileman. In a frantic last two minutes, the USA took Hileman off to be replaced by Johhny Ball to play with five outfielders. But a mistake by Howes let in the irrepressible Bertoni to run half the length of the pitch and slot past Ball.

USA coach Keith Tozer remained upbeat after the game: "I feel really good about the way we played today. We need to clean up a couple of things - if we had taken our chances today it could have been a different story. I'm confident for Tuesday."