Fabio Quagliarella became the oldest goalscorer in his country’s history as Italy romped to a 6-0 win over 10-man Liechtenstein in Euro 2020 qualifying.
Aged 36 years and 54 days, Quagliarella scored two first-half penalties and was later substituted to a standing ovation having marked his first competitive start since October 2009 in style.
It was a night of milestones in Parma, Stefano Sensi getting his first international goal in only his second appearance to open the scoring, and Marco Verratti netting his first for Italy in over six years.
Liechtenstein’s Daniel Kaufmann was sent off just before half-time when conceding Quagliarella’s second penalty, with Juventus star Moise Kean scoring for a second successive game before substitute Leonardo Pavoletti notched a debut goal.
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) March 26, 2019
The breakthrough arrived in the 17th minute, Sassuolo midfielder Sensi heading high past Benjamin Buchel from 10 yards after a left-wing cross from Leonardo Spinazzola.
Gianluca Mancini fired over from six yards as he missed the chance to mark his debut with a goal, but Verratti made no mistake in the 32nd minute, dispossessing Sandro Wolfinger and sending a fine finish into the far corner from 12 yards.
Moments after Alessio Romagnoli had a header cleared off the line, Nicolas Hasler handled in the box, allowing Quagliarella to score from the spot, the veteran sending his effort straight down the middle.
Kean hit the bar as Italy threatened a fourth, which arrived three minutes into first-half stoppage time when Kaufmann was dismissed having been adjudged to have stopped Verratti’s effort on the line with his arm, Quagliarella this time slotting into the bottom-left corner.
After the break, Maximilian Goppel hacked Spinazzola’s chip off the line and Romagnoli tapped a glorious close-range chance wide.
But a fifth goal did arrive with 21 minutes left, Kean heading in from two yards out after Spinazzola’s cross was flicked on by strike partner Quagliarella.
Pavoletti, who had just replaced Quagliarella, struck next in the 76th minute, converting on the rebound after Buchel had saved his initial header.
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@UEFAEURO) March 26, 2019
What does it mean? So far, so good for Italy in Group J
Italy were expected to hammer the world’s 181st-ranked side, and they did exactly that.
While not too much can be gained from such a mismatch, Roberto Mancini will be pleased with two straight wins to kick off the qualifying campaign and a six-game unbeaten run across all fixtures that has seen his side keep clean sheets in five games running.
Dream season continues for Quagliarella
Italy’s previous oldest scorer was Christian Panucci, who was 35 when he found the net against Romania at Euro 2008, but few would deny the evergreen Quagliarella deserves his place in the record books.
The Sampdoria forward is the top scorer in Serie A this season, having netted 21 goals, and he continued that form in this game – scoring twice and also assisting the goal for Kean, a man who is 17 years his junior.
Romagnoli unable to open account
AC Milan centre-back Romagnoli, who did not have many defensive duties to worry about, may never get a better chance to open his international account. However, he missed a sitter after the break, having earlier been denied by a last-ditch goal-line clearance.
Italy are away to Greece on June 8 as they bid to continue their 100 per cent start, the same day as Liechtenstein look for their first point of the campaign away to Armenia, who they drew with in the Nations League in November.
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