Italy hammer Liechtenstein to push perfect Euro 2020 run to eight games
Vaduz (AFP) –
Andrea Belotti completed a second-half brace as already-qualified Italy overran Liechtenstein 5-0 on Tuesday to stretch their perfect run in Euro 2020 qualifying to eight games.
Roberto Mancini's side had assured top spot in Group J after a 2-0 win over Greece in Rome on Saturday.
Federico Bernardeschi gave Italy the lead after just two minutes in Vaduz but it was not until the last 20 minutes that the 'Azzurri' hammered home their domination with four late goals.
Belotti headed in twice for a second-half brace with Alessio Romagnoli and substitute Stephan El Shaarawy also scoring near the end.
Mancini celebrated his ninth win in a row as Italy manager to draw level with the record run of legendary Vittorio Pozzo back in 1938-1939.
Liechtenstein are already eliminated from the European tournament they also lost 6-0 to Italy in Parma last March.
With qualification already in the bag,m Mancini rang the changes with Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti the only survivor from the Greece game.
The 26-year-old took the captain's armband with Leonardo Bonnucci rested, as Napoli defender Giovanni Di Lorenzo got his senior Italian debut aged 26, with winger Vincenzo Grifo, also 26, getting his first start.
Roma midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo, 20, got his first senior start having come off the bench in his three previous appearances.
With only pride to play, for the hosts threatened early with Dennis Salanovic testing Salvatore Sirigu after just one minute at the Rheinpark Stadion, with the Torino goalkeeper clearing into the path of Maximilian Goeppel before Gianluca Mancini averted the danger.
A minute later Italy were ahead with Belotti setting up Cristiano Biraghi who connected with Bernardeschi to finish off.
The Juventus forward had already scored against Greece to bring his tally to four in 23 games for Italy since 2016.
Belotti missed a chance for a second after half and hour when Bernardeschi returned the favour crossing for the Torino captain whose shot was cleared by home defender Daniel Kaufmann.
But Belotti scored the second with 20 minutes to go getting his head to the end of Freiburg winger Grifo's corner.
El Shaarawy, who plays for Shanghai Shenhua, came on for Zaniolo after the hour mark, and set up Romagnoli for the third before scoring himself with eight minutes to go.
Belotti completed the rout when he dived to meet a Di Lorenzo cross for his second goal on the night as Liechtenstein fell to their sixth defeat in eight games, having held Greece and Armenia to draws.
Italy next play Bosnia and Herzegovina on November 15 with Liechtenstein travelling to second-placed Finland Liechtenstein.
© 2019 AFP