European Qualifiers, Italy win by a landslide against Liechtenstein and sit on top of Group J with maximum pointsA second consecutive win for the National Team in their European Championship qualifying group as Sensi, Verratti, Quagliarella (x2), Kean and Pavoletti all get on the scoresheet.
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
This is an Italy side looking to impress, and they’re doing just that. Roberto Mancini’s team recorded a resounding 6-0 victory against Liechtenstein at the Tardini in Parma to make it two wins from two in their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign – a competition which will kick off at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome in a year’s time. After their 2-0 success against Finland, the Azzurri put on a show for the home crowd, producing pieces of play full of quality.
In front of a packed crowd (including Ramy Shehata and Adam El Hamami, the young heroes from the bus hijacking incident in Crema, who were invited by the FIGC), Italy were up against Liechtenstein for the third time in their history and a side that had just been beaten by Greece. In the previous meetings between the Azzurri and The Blues-Reds, Italy comfortably came out on top twice (4-0 in Vaduz and 5-0 in Udine) during the qualifying campaign for the World Cup in Russia.
Head Coach Mancini didn’t change the team’s formation but did make a number of changes to the starting line-up. Starting in goal was Sirigu, while Gianluca Mancini came in to make his debut in central defence in place of the injured Piccini. Captain Bonucci was chosen as his centre-back partner, while Romagnoli and Spinazzola filled the full-back roles. A midfield trio full of quality lined up to start: Sensi coming in for Barella was the only change made by Mancini from the win against Finland. Politano, Quagliarella and Moise Kean were chosen to lead the team’s attack.
The Azzurri began in a lively fashion as they immediately looked to put the Liechtenstein goal under pressure. Buchel’s goal was living a charmed life until the hosts finally broke the deadlock in the 17th minute through Sensi, who headed home Spinazzola’s cross. This was the Sassuolo midfielder’s first goal for the National Team after having made his debut on 20 November in the friendly against the United States.
The lead and support from the home crowd pushed the Azzurri on, with Mancini’s men putting the game to bed with goals after 32 and 35 minutes: Veratti got on the scoresheet with some great individual play before Fabio Quagliarella converted from the penalty spot at the age of 36 years and 54 days, thus becoming the oldest goalscorer in the National Team’s history. The Sampdoria striker then went on to score another spot-kick after Kean had hit the post: Kaufmann was sent off for handball on the line and Quagliarella subsequently stepped up and scored. The first half therefore ended with Italy four goals to the good and with a numerical advantage out on the pitch.
The optimum combination of youth and experience was on display in the second half. In the 57th minute, the Head Coach brought on another young talent in Nicolò Zaniolo in Jorginho’s place. Ten minutes later, Moise Kean was back in amongst the goals as he headed in Quagliarella’s flighted ball.
In the 72nd minute, Fabio Quagliarella was substituted and received a standing ovation as he left the pitch after having got back on the scoresheet for the National Team for the first time in nine years. On in his place came debutant Leonardo Pavoletti, who scored his first goal for the National Team with a close-range tap-in after initially seeing his header saved by Buchel.
It was the goal that made it 6-0 as Liechtenstein suffered their biggest ever defeat against the Azzurri. In the 79th minute, it was time for another debutant to enter the fray: Armando Izzo. He became the 18th player to make his National Team debut since Mancini’s reign began as he replaced captain Leonardo Bonucci.
The win against Liechtenstein means that Italy sit on top of Euro 2020 qualifying Group J with Bosnia and Greece having drawn 2-2. These are the two sides the Azzurri have coming up next: they’ll play Greece away from home on 8 June, with a match against Bosnia at the Juventus Stadium three days later then set to follow.