ATHENS - Italy coach Marcello Lippi equalled the world record of 31 successive international games without defeat when his side drew 1-1 in a friendly with Greece on Wednesday. Fanis Gekas put Greece ahead in the 50th minute but Luca Toni equalised five minutes later to secure the draw that took Lippi level with Javier Clemente of Spain and Alfio Basile of Argentina. Lippi, who has reached the mark over two stints with Italy, also beat the Italian record of 30 set by Vittorio Pozzo between 1935 and 1939. Lippi's first spell in charge ran from 2004 to 2006 when he led Italy to victory in the World Cup in Germany. He was reappointed this year after Italy's poor performance at the European Championships under Roberto Donadoni. "This is something that will from now on accompany me in every game," said Lippi, referring to the constant questions about the record. "It is something that gives me pleasure but what makes me happiest in this streak of good results is something very important, a World Cup. "The unbeaten streak in itself is meaningless without that important victory." Alexandros Tzorvas, making his debut in goal for Greece, had an excellent game and produced a cluster of fine saves including two in the second half to deny Mauro Camoranesi. Neither side offered much in the way of entertainment or chances in a poor first half, although Tzorvas got down well to palm away a Gennaro Gattuso shot and then denied Giuseppe Rossi from a metre out. Greece were twice unlucky, first when they were denied a penalty in the 39th minute after a Gattuso handball and then a minute later when Vangelis Mantzios had a goal ruled out for offside. The game sparked into life five minutes into the second period when substitute Gekas ran on to a deft pass from Alexandros Tziolis to fire the ball wide of Morgan De Sanctis in the Italian goal. Italy then levelled as Bayern Munich striker Toni rose high above the defence at the back post to head in Daniele De Rossi's cross from the right.
19 November 2008
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