Monday, November 18, 2019 | ePaper

Italy hammer Liechtenstein for perfect Euro 2020 run and record

  • Print


Italy's Giovanni Di Lorenzo (left) controls the ball against Liechtenstein's Dennis Salanovic during their Euro 2020 Qualifying, Group J soccer match in Vaduz, Liechtenstein on Tuesday.

AFP, Vaduz :
Andrea Belotti scored 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 and match an 80-year Italian record.
Roberto Mancini's side were assured of 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.
Pozzo won the first two of Italy's four World Cup titles in 1934 and 1938 and gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympics
"I'm more interested in his record of two World Cups and the Olympics, but even just winning Euro 2020 would be enough," said Mancini.
The 54-year-old former Inter Milan and Manchester City manager took over in May 2018 after Italy's failure to qualify for the World Cup.
Liechtenstein are already eliminated from the European tournament and they also lost 6-0 to Italy in Parma last March.
With qualification already in the bag, 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, made his first senior start having come off the bench in his three previous appearances.
Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali, 19, was also given his first international debut in the second half.
"We struggled a bit because we didn't find the second goal right away, but with so many changes it was inevitable to spend a little time finding the right chemistry," said Mancini.
"The important thing is that all the kids are really involved.
"And the truth is that in June, I will be forced to make choices and some good players will have to stay out."
With only pride to play, for the hosts threatened early with Dennis Salanovic testing Salvatore Sirigu after just one minute.
A minute later Italy were ahead with Belotti setting up Cristiano Biraghi who connected with Bernardeschi to finish off for his second goal in a row after Greece last weekend.
Belotti broke through for 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.
"Liechtenstein brings me luck, especially here as I got a brace last time too," said Belotti, with five of his eight Italy goals against the team.
"We're a completely different team from the one that lost the World Cup play-offs to Sweden two years ago.
"It's right that Italy are back where we belong."
Italy next play Bosnia and Herzegovina on November 15 with Liechtenstein travelling to second-placed Finland Liechtenstein.

More News For this Category

Winks, Mount net first England goals in Kosovo rout

Winks, Mount net first England goals in Kosovo rout

Gareth Southgate believes England still have room for improvement despite the "ruthless" 4-0 rout of Kosovo on Sunday that ensured they will be among the top six seeds at Euro

Hazard called 'lazy' by John Obi Mikel

Hazard called 'lazy' by John Obi Mikel

Eden Hazard has been brandished the "laziest player I have played with" by former Chelsea team-mate John Obi Mikel, while also insisting Hazard remained an "incredible talent".Obi Mikel, now playing

Czech Republic's Tomas Soucek (right) fights for the ball with Bulgaria's Marcelinho during the Euro 2020 group             A qualifying soccer match between Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, at the Vasil Levski national stadium, in Sofia,   Bulgaria on Sunday.

Czech Republic's Tomas Soucek (right) fights for the ball with Bulgaria's Marcelinho during the Euro 2020 group A qualifying soccer match between Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, at the Vasil Levski national stadium, in Sofia, Bulgaria on Sunday.

Ronaldo scores 99th Portugal goal as holders seal Euro 2020 spot

Ronaldo scores 99th Portugal goal as holders seal Euro 2020 spot

AFP, Paris :Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 99th international goal as reigning champions Portugal secured their place at the Euro 2020 finals on Sunday with a 2-0 victory away to Luxembourg,

Hosts Brazil lift fourth U-17 trophy in Brasilia

Hosts Brazil lift fourth U-17 trophy in Brasilia

The final day at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019™ came to a close with an increasingly familiar scene: Brazil raising the trophy aloft as world champions.A Seleção collected

Euro 2020 takes shape as Netherlands, Germany and Croatia qualify

Euro 2020 takes shape as Netherlands, Germany and Croatia qualify

AFP, Paris :The Netherlands, Germany and World Cup finalists Croatia expanded a list of big hitters to qualify for Euro 2020 on Saturday as the trio booked their places at

Bale says he gets more enjoyment from Wales than Real Madrid

Bale says he gets more enjoyment from Wales than Real Madrid

Gareth Bale has risked fuelling the criticism of his commitment to Real Madrid by admitting on Friday he is more excited playing for Wales than for the Spanish giants.Bale has

Finland into first major finals as Sweden seal Euro 2020 place

Finland into first major finals as Sweden seal Euro 2020 place

Finland qualified for the first major tournament in their history on Friday with a 3-0 win over Liechtenstein while Sweden sealed their place at the Euro 2020 finals following a

Spain destroy Malta 7-0

Spain destroy Malta 7-0

Spain clinched top spot in Group F in style by hammering Malta 7-0 at home on Friday for their biggest win of their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign as seven players

Messi scores on Argentina return to sink Brazil

Messi scores on Argentina return to sink Brazil

AFP, Riyadh :Lionel Messi struck on his return to international duty Friday following a three-month ban as Argentina defeated fierce rivals Brazil 1-0 in a friendly in Riyadh.The Barcelona forward