Italy secure first win since Euro 2020 triumph
Italy recorded their first win since being crowned European champions as strikers Moise Kean and Giacomo Raspadori inspired a crushing 5-0 victory over Lithuania to strengthen their grip on top spot in World Cup qualifying Group C.
The two 21-year-olds impressed their coach by lighting up the first half, as Kean netted twice either side of an Edgaras Utkus own goal and Sassuolo's Raspadori, making his first start for Italy, also scored.
"Everything is in their heads and their feet. If they are committed and work seriously, they have a great future. But it is up to them," Italy coach Roberto Mancini told RAI.
It was the first time Italy, who endured frustrating draws against Bulgaria and Switzerland in their previous two qualifiers, scored four goals in the first 30 minutes of a match.
Giovanni di Lorenzo inadvertently added a fifth when his second-half cross-shot nestled in the bottom corner, as the Azzurri comfortably extended their record international unbeaten run to 37 matches.
"The guys responded well on the pitch, despite losing so many players over the last few days. Scoring five or six goals is not simple," Mancini said.
Italy top the standings with 14 points, six ahead of second-placed Switzerland, who drew 0-0 away to Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile, Spain, who lost to Italy in the Euro 2020 semi-finals on penalties, moved clear at the top of Group B after beating Kosovo 2-0 with goals from Pablo Fornals and Ferran Torres.
Luis Enrique's side have a four-point cushion over second-placed Sweden, who have two games in hand. - REUTERS