Italy started their preparations for Euro 2020 with an emphatic 7-0 friendly win over San Marino at the Sardegna Arena on Friday.
Despite a slow start, Roberto Mancini’s side went in at the interval two goals up courtesy of strikes from Federico Bernardeschi – the Juventus man’s sixth international goal – and Gian Marco Ferrari.
Matteo Politano and Matteo Pessina added braces after the break, while Andrea Belotti was also on target as Italy brushed aside their neighbours with the minimum of fuss.
The result meant Italy stretched their unbeaten run to 26 matches, the second-longest run in their history after going 30 without defeat under Vittorio Pozzo between 1935 and 1939.
Italy struggled in the early stages against their less illustrious opponents, with only Gianluca Mancini and Bernardeschi registering efforts on target inside the opening half hour.
They went ahead after 31 minutes, however, when Bernardeschi’s low strike from 20 yards proved too powerful for San Marino goalkeeper Elia Benedettini.
Sassuolo defender Ferrari, who scored on his only other appearance for Italy against San Marino in 2017, doubled their advantage three minutes later, volleying home after Benedettini had failed to clear a corner.
Half-time substitute Politano wasted little time making his mark on the game, sliding in his third international goal in the 49th minute after a mix-up in the San Marino defence.
Belotti added a fourth after 67 minutes, the Torino striker latching onto Bernardeschi’s pass and firing past Benedettini from eight yards.
Pessina stroked home a fifth in the 75th minute after Gaetano Castrovilli had struck the post from outside the penalty area, while Politano added his second two minutes later with a fine volley from 12 yards.
Atalanta midfielder Pessina then rounded off the scoring four minutes from full-time with a poked finish from a tight angle.
What does it mean? Azzurri recover from slow start
Given San Marino’s status as the lowest-ranked team in world football, anything other than a resounding win would have been unacceptable for Italy.
Despite the final scoreline, they did not have it all their own way in the early exchanges and Mancini will know his side must start with significantly more verve when their Group A campaign kicks off against Turkey on June 11.
Bernardeschi shines for hosts
The captain led by example, putting Italy ahead with a powerful drive before creating Belotti’s goal with an incisive run and pass. He did blot his copybook by losing possession a whopping 27 times, however – the most of any player on the pitch.
Kean fails to stake a claim
It was hardly a surprise to see Moise Kean withdrawn at the interval, the striker failing to have a single shot or play a key pass to a team-mate during a dismal 45 minutes. Do not expect the Everton striker to be in Mancini’s starting line-up when Euro 2020 kicks off.
Italy have a final friendly before Euro 2020 against Czech Republic next Friday, while San Marino are in action again on Tuesday when they face Kosovo.
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