Italy exhausted a courageous effort from Solomon Islands to win 7-4 in what proved a fitting curtain-raiser to Marseille 2008.

Paolo Palmacci shone for the Europeans while Gibson Hosea's brace kept the Bilikiki Boys in contention before he was sent off.

The Italians made an explosive start scoring twice inside the first 71 seconds courtesy of Palmacci and Simone Feudi.

James Naka halved the deficit but Francesco Corosoniti's thunderous volley and a Giusepe Soria strike sent the Azzurri in 4-1 up at the first break.

It was 6-4 by the end of the second period, Roberto Pasquali and Giuseppe Condorelli on target for the Italians.

The final 12 minutes proved tight with another goal completing the scoring and ensured that Italy went straight to the top of Group A.

Solomon Islands goal scorer James Naka was resolute in defeat.

"It was a very hard game. Although we lost, I'm not too disappointed because Italy are a really good team. It was a great honor to play in the World Cup, and I was really proud to represent my country and my island. It's our ambition to reach the second round and we still believe we can do this," OFC media quotes Mr. Naka as stating.