Udine (Italy), June 12: Italy crushed Liechtenstein 5-0 with a superlative second-half display as they kept pace with top-placed Spain in terms of points accumulated in the Group G of the 2018 football World Cup qualifiers.
Lorenzo Insigne on Sunday scored in the first half, while Andrea Belotti, Eder, Federico Bernardeschi and Manolo Gabbiadini blitzed in the second half as the four-time World Cup winners Italy moved to secure 16 points so far from the six-team group. But they are behind 2010 World Cup winners Spain on the basis of goal difference.
Facing a lower-ranked Liechtenstein at the Stadio Friuli, Italy head coach Gian Piero Ventura continued with his aggressive 4-2-4 formation. Young midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini made his debut. In attack, Ciro Immobile and Belotti were the strikers with Antonio Candreva and Insigne were at the wings.
Italy started strongly and found the net after two minutes through Candreva but the goal was incorrectly ruled out for offside.
The gulf in technical and tactical awareness between the sides was clear. Italy created a lot but were a bit inaccurate in attack.
It took 34 minutes to break the deadlock when Insigne produced a lob from an assist from left-back Leonardo Spinazzola.
In the second half, the hosts only needed seven minutes to double their lead. Insigne played a through ball to Belotti, who scored his fourth goal for Italy, three of which have come against Liechtenstein.
Two minutes later, Immobile hit the post from close range, before goalkeeper Jehle got his hands on the ball.
Subsitute Eder picked up a cross from Belotti to give Italy a 3-0 lead in the 74th minute.
Later, Bernardeschi scored from long range to make it 4-0 for his maiden international goal, another substitute Gabbiadini scored in injury time on an assist from Spinazzola.
Coach Ventura said that his wards shuld have shown more patience in the first half.
“The first half was a lesson which will help us for the next match which is the one against Spain in Madrid. When you want to do things in a hurry without thinking you lose your way,” he said.
“In the second half, we did things as we had to. The chances and goals came in a flurry. This is what I meant when I spoke about patience, we’ll remember this in Madrid,” he added.
“Football is a game. The problems weren’t the chances as we created seven or eight clear ones in the second half. I think that the first half was useful in showing us what could be done and we played better after the break.”