Italy maintained their perfect record in Group J and clocked up their ninth international win in a row with a 5-0 thumping of Liechtenstein on Tuesday.
The Azzurri were already qualified for the European Championship finals an locked up the top spot in the group with the runaway win.
Federico Bernardeschi set Italy on the way in the second minute before Andrea Belotti, with a brace, Alessio Romagnoli and Stephan El Shaarawy added further goals in the final 20 minutes as Roberto Mancini’s team made it eight wins out of eight in the group.
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Italy made 10 changes to their team that beat Greece 2-0 two days ago and Bernardeschi put the visitors ahead after less than two minutes when he volleyed in Cristiano Biraghi’s cross, but Italy had to wait until the 70th for the second goal.
Italy’s run, which includes a friendly win over the United States followed by their eight Euro qualifiers, is their longest since 1938-39 under Vittorio Pozzo.
“Am I interested in equalling Pozzo’s record? I would be interested in winning two World Cups and an Olympic Games like he did, but a European Championship would do just fine,” said Italy coach Roberto Mancini.
Goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu had to pull off several saves to prevent an equaliser before Belotti headed in a corner to double the Italy’s lead.
That opened up the floodgates as Romagnoli headed in another in the 77th on an assist from El Shaarawy, who got on the scoresheet himself five minutes later following a through-ball from Bryan Cristante.
Belotti doubled his tally in stoppage time with another header.
“The important thing is that all the lads are really involved,” said Mancini, who has rejuvenated the team during his 18 months in charge. “And the truth is that, on June 1, I will be forced to make some important choices and some kids will have to miss out.”
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