Italy cruised to a comfortable 5-0 victory over Liechtenstein on Tuesday, a result that sees Roberto Mancini equal Vittorio Pozzo’s historic run of nine consecutive wins as Azzurri boss set in the 1930s.
Having booked their Euro 2020 ticket thanks to Saturday’s victory over Greece, Mancini opted to ring in the changes by bringing in 10 fresh faces for the qualifier – with only Marco Verratti keeping his place in the starting XI.
Federico Bernardeschi, Andrea Belotti, Alessio Romagnoli, Stephan El Shaarawy all netted in a match that saw Italy dominate possession, with the Torino striker bagging two, though they had to rely on Salvatore Sirigu on more than one occasion when the match was still in the balance.
The victory puts Mancini in esteemed company with Pozzo, with the latter best remembered for winning two World Cups during his reign, along with maintaining Italy’s 100 percent record after eight matches in Group J play.
Just 40 seconds into the match Sirigu did well to parry a Dennis Salanovic drive with his legs, with Gianluca Mancini clearing the danger out for a corner.
That decision by the Roma defender proved decisive, as Italy hit back on the counter after the set play. Cristiano Biraghi found space on the left and picked out an unmarked Bernardeschi, who fired into the roof of the net after 110 seconds of play.
Salanovic tested Sirigu again soon after, while Bernardeschi failed to double his tally as he scuffed a volley from an Italy corner.
Despite Italy ending the half with 76 percent of possession, they failed to turn that into any real chances over the remainder of the opening frame.
In fact, if it wasn’t for a fingertip Sirigu save on another Salanovic effort form distance, the score would have been level heading into the break.
Salanovic and Sirigu continued their battle within the battle in the 65th minute, with the Torino goalkeeper once again coming out on top thanks to a fantastic save on the curling strike.
The match was finally put to rest minutes later when Belotti roamed away from his marker at the far post on a corner and headed home across the face of goal – his fourth career strike against Liechtenstein.
Sandro Tonali came on to make his senior debut, while Romagnoli, El Shaarawy and a second from Belotti rounded out the scoreline as Mancini and his men will look to make history with a perfect 10 next time out against Bosnia and Herzegovina on November 15.