Italy remain level on points with Spain at the top of World Cup qualifying Group G after cruising to a 4-0 victory in Liechtenstein.
Strikers Andrea Belotti and Ciro Immobile scored within 75 seconds of each other in the first half as Italy raced in front.
Antonio Candreva added a third before Belotti grabbed his second prior to half-time.
A quiet second half saw the hosts – who failed to register a shot on target – avoid any further damage after they leaked eight goals to Spain earlier in the campaign, with Belotti missing chances for his hat-trick.
The away win puts Italy on to 10 points and Giampiero Ventura’s men only trail Spain on goal difference, with Israel one point behind in third. Liechtenstein are bottom having lost all four of their qualifiers.
Giacomo Bonaventura forced Peter Jehle into a fine early save, while debutant Davide Zappacosta – in as one of two Italy changes – also tested the home goalkeeper early on.
The breakthrough arrived after only 11 minutes when Candreva’s corner was headed on by Alessio Romagnoli and turned in from two yards by Belotti.
And it was two on Italy’s next attack when Bonaventura’s chip forward was flicked on by Belotti, allowing Immobile to calmly finish for his fourth goal in as many qualifiers.
Leonardo Bonucci thought he had a rare goal when another Candreva corner caused chaos in the home defence, but Franz Burgmeier got back to make an impressive clearance off the line with Jehle beaten.
However, it was three after 32 minutes when Mattia De Sciglio’s cross from the left deflected into the path of Candreva to sweep home a simple finish.
Belotti had the ball in the net with a clever flick only to be denied by an offside flag, but he did get his second a minute before the break, controlling impressively before firing in left-footed from Bonaventura’s pass forward.
Substitute Lorenzo Insigne gave Belotti a chance to seal a hat-trick in the second half, but the Torino forward scuffed his finish.
Belotti then had an even better opportunity from inside the six-yard box, but he somehow guided his header off-target after more impressive work from Insigne down the left.
The 22-year-old looked to be offside when he headed inches over from another chance to reach his first international treble following Zappacosta’s delivery into the box in the closing stages, as Italy were unable to add to their lead on a comfortable evening.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!