Italy set a new all-time record of 37 matches without defeat as a Moise Kean brace helped them thump Lithuania 5-0 in World Cup qualifying on Wednesday.
Roberto Mancini’s side equalled Brazil’s record, set between 1993 and 1996, with a 0-0 draw against Switzerland at the weekend and the European champions moved clear of the Selecao in some style at Mapei Stadium.
The game was over as a contest by half-time courtesy of Kean’s double either side of an own goal from Edgaras Utkus and Giacomo Raspadori’s maiden international strike.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo rounded off the scoring early in the second half as the Azzurri moved onto 14 points at the summit of Group C, six points clear of second-placed Switzerland.
Italy wasted little time stamping their authority on the game, Mancini’s men racing into a 2-0 lead after just 14 minutes.
Kean put them ahead with a clinical finish after a sloppy pass from Arvydas Novikovas, before Utkus inadvertently diverted Raspadori’s 20-yard drive past Ernestas Setkus.
Sassuolo striker Raspadori did open his international account after 24 minutes, though, powering into the roof of the net from six yards, while Kean added another five minutes later, the Juventus man steering home a sumptuous volley from Federico Bernardeschi’s lofted pass.
Di Lorenzo made it five nine minutes into the second half, the Napoli full-back scoring his first goal for his country with a cross that looped into Setkus’ far corner.
Gaetano Castrovilli thundered against the post from 18 yards in the closing stages as Italy cruised to a record-breaking three points with the minimum of fuss.
What does it mean? Fresh faces deliver for Mancini
Mancini shuffled his pack after admitting his players were “tired” following the draw with Switzerland and his new-look starting XI were anything but sluggish during an electric opening 45 minutes.
They slowed down after the interval, but the damage had been done against a sorry Lithuania side who have now lost all five of their Group C matches.
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) September 8, 2021
Resurgent Kean shines
Kean doubled his international tally with two first-half strikes, the second of which will have had Juventus fans licking their lips at the prospect of what he can achieve this season after a torrid time in England with Everton.
Quiet game for Jorginho
Captaining his country for the first time, Jorginho endured a subdued game. The Chelsea midfielder failed to take a shot or play a single key pass during his 61 minutes on the pitch.
Italy face Spain in the Nations League next month before wrapping up their qualifying campaign against Switzerland and Northern Ireland in November. Lithuania, meanwhile, face Bulgaria and Switzerland in Group C in October.
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