Italy sealed a comprehensive 6-0 friendly victory over Moldova on Wednesday, as they geared up towards two crucial UEFA Nations League clashes against Poland and the Netherlands.
The Azzurri had the job done by half time at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence, with Stephan El Shaarawy netting a brace and Francesco Caputo scoring on his debut. Meanwhile, Bryan Cristante’s header and a Veacaslav Posmac own goal gave them a 5-0 lead at the break.
Whilst they were only able to add one more, through Domenico Berardi, Italy made lightwork of their opponents and secured a comfortable win.
Azzurri find form ahead of critical double-header
Although few would expect European minnows Moldova to truly trouble Italy, the Azzurri applied a professional approach and ensured victory ahead of Saturday’s clash with Poland.
A confidence-boosting win in Florence gives coach Roberto Mancini plenty of options for the competitive fixtures against the Poles and the Netherlands, with Cristante, El Shaarawy and Manuel Lazzari standing out.
Enjoying almost 70% possession, the hosts made sure that Moldova were put to the sword early and were able to experiment and find some rhythm at the start of packed international period.
Topping Group A after two rounds, Italy are in a strong position to maintain their lead and took the opportunity to build momentum ahead of the Nations League matches.
Captain El Shaarawy leads from the front
Putting his disappointment of a return to Roma collapsing at the death on Monday, El Shaarawy showed just why the Giallorossi were so keen to bring him back to Serie A.
Handed the captain’s armband by Mancini, the Shanghai Shenhua forward led the line with pace, movement and an eye for the flamboyant. A brace was no less than he deserved for a determined and hard working performance, encapsulated by the wonderful touch and finish for his first goal.
With Caputo and Berardi staking a claim with goals of their own, and the likes of Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne sitting the match out, El Shaarawy needed to showcase his undoubted talent. A captain’s performance will have done his chances of earning a starting berth in the competitive fixtures no harm at all.