Roberto Mancini was pleased with Italy's response to their weekend draw with Switzerland as they cruised past Lithuania 5-0 to set a new all-time record of 37 matches without defeat.

The Azzurri equalled Brazil's record with an underwhelming 0-0 draw against Switzerland on Sunday but they moved clear of the Selecao with a resounding win at Mapei Stadium on Wednesday.

Moise Kean was the star of the show, the Juventus man scoring twice in a pulsating first half that also saw an own goal from Edgaras Utkus and a Giacomo Raspadori strike – the Sassuolo man's first in international football.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo scored after the break as the European champions moved onto 14 points at the top of World Cup qualifying Group C, six points clear of second-place Switzerland after their goalless draw with Northern Ireland.

Mancini made eight changes from the side that drew with Switzerland and he was pleased with how his new-look starting XI acquitted themselves.

"Despite losing so many players over the last couple of days, the lads reacted well. Obviously, the opponents weren't of the highest quality, but you can't always score five or six goals, so they did well," he told RAI Sport.

"Anyone can make a mistake [the result with Switzerland], the important thing is to stay calm, not lose our heads, and it will be fine."

Kean and Raspadori took their chances to shine and Mancini insisted both players will be given more opportunities to impress.

"We already brought Raspadori to the Euros, we saw he has quality, but he is young and needs to gain experience," the Italy boss added.

"Of course, it's all in their minds and their feet. If they do what they need to do, work hard, remain organised on the field, then it depends on them, but they can have their chance."

 

Kean did not make the cut for Italy's triumphant Euro 2020 squad, but he shone in Reggio Emilia.

The 21-year-old scored with both his shots on target and was full of running as Italy swept their sorry opponents aside with ease.

Kean, who is back at Juventus after a torrid time in the Premier League with Everton, acknowledged it was not easy to watch his country's success from afar but said he is delighted to be back in the fold.

"It was important to get back in this shirt and give 100 per cent for the jersey, as it means so much to me every time," he said.

"It was not easy to be at home watching the Euros, but I was always in front of the television cheering on my team-mates. They brought home the trophy for Italy and that's what matters.

"It's all about hard work, how professionally I approach it. My team-mates gave me a warm welcome, I am working every day and returned with new objectives, a new mentality, and I'm always ready to help my team-mates."

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.  

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.

What's next?

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.

Roberto Mancini is planning to make changes to Italy's starting line-up for their next match after his "tired" side were held to a goalless draw by Switzerland on Sunday.

The Azzurri created a number of chances and saw a Jorginho penalty saved by Yann Sommer, who made seven saves in total at St. Jakob-Park.

It is the second stalemate in the space of three days for the recently crowned European champions, having also drawn 1-1 with Bulgaria in this week's World Cup qualifiers.

Despite dropping more points, Italy made it 36 games unbeaten to equal Brazil's all-time record, set between 1993 and 1996.

Mancini was once against disappointed with his side's profligacy in front of goal, however, as his side failed to find the net for the first time in 18 matches overall.

"This is a moment when the ball just isn't going in," he told Rai Sport. "Once again, we had too many chances not to win this game.

"It's not the penalty, it's other situations. We need to be more determined, more clinical, more precise. 

"Just like with Bulgaria, it's another match we cannot fail to win with that many scoring opportunities created.

"It was tougher in the second half, but we had the chances in the first half and the second, which means the team did play good football.

"The lads are tired, so there certainly will be some changes for the next game. It's a missed opportunity, exactly like on Thursday. Exactly the same."

 

That next game is against Lithuania in Reggio Emilia on Wednesday, a game Italy will be overwhelming favourites to win no matter what side Mancini fields.

Sunday's draw leaves Italy four points clear of Switzerland, though the Group C second seeds have two games in hand still to play.

With the sides set to face off again on Italian soil in two months' time, Mancini believes that showdown could well be a decider for the only automatic qualification spot.

"I think that will be the case, yes," he said.

Italy's run of draws spans four successive matches inside 90 minutes, though they won two of those matches on penalties on their way to Euro 2020 success.

Ten members of Italy's starting line-up were also part of the XI that helped brush aside Switzerland 3-0 in that tournament, with Emerson Palmieri for Leonardo Spinazzola the only change.

Skipper Giorgio Chiellini believes his side played better in Basel on Sunday than they did in that European Championship match two months ago.

"We played really well this evening in every sense, with technique and aggression, probably better than when we beat Switzerland 3-0 in June," he told RAI Sport.

"What we lacked was the little bit extra to score a goal. This is what we need to find as soon as possible, because this was already a big step forward from Thursday's game, as we were back to the team we saw at Wembley.

"We'll make another step forward for the Nations League in November, then we'll take World Cup qualification after that. 

"Let's take it one step at a time, recover some energy. There's a long way to go and we have to prepare for Wednesday."

Jorginho's penalty miss was his first for Italy from his sixth spot-kick, though that excludes shoot-outs, having also missed in Italy's triumph over England in the Euros final.

"At that moment, it's the team that has to help Jorginho and we did," Chiellini added. "If we didn't have that bit of focus, we could've lost tonight and then made it really complicated for our qualification.

"There are many positives to be taken from this performance and we have to build on those."

Spain's youngsters had no problems cruising to a straightforward 4-0 win over Lithuania on Tuesday as the Under-21s filled in for the senior side's final pre-Euro 2020 warm-up match due to coronavirus protocols.

Sergio Busquets' positive COVID-19 test on Sunday threw Spain's European Championship preparations into disarray as the situation forced the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to promote their entire Under-21s side, though La Rojita took their opportunity to impress.

Spain quickly showed they were a cut above Lithuania and opened the scoring inside three minutes, Hugo Guillamon slamming home from 16 yards after Manu Garcia's low cross was deflected back towards the edge of the box.

It was 2-0 with less than half an hour played when Brahim Diaz drilled across goal after being afforded a lot of space in the box following an incisive pass from Gonzalo Villar.

Lithuania were fortunate not to concede further goals before the break, as Tomas Svedkauskas saved Abel Ruiz's feeble penalty after Markas Beneta wrestled Bryan Gil – the only Spain player with a prior senior cap – to the ground, while the goalkeeper also denied Oscar Mingueza from point-blank range.

Half-time substitute Juan Miranda took just seven minutes to get his name on the scoresheet, with Svedkauskas only able to tip the Real Betis left-back's free-kick against the inside of the post and in.

Javi Puado, another introduced from the bench, made it 4-0 with 18 minutes to go as he latched on to Bryan's incisive chipped pass, skipped past a defender and blasted beyond Svedkauskas.

Although Spain could not match the 5-0 win they recorded over Lithuania back in 1993, their Under-21s at least showed they have plenty of talent in reserve should they be needed in the Euros.
 

Roberto Mancini has set his sights on World Cup glory with Italy, though his first aim may well be to push for enlarged squads at Euro 2020.

Italy made it three wins from three to start their World Cup 2022 qualification campaign by seeing off Lithuania by the now familiar scoreline of 2-0. 

Goals from Stefano Sensi and Ciro Immobile bookended the second half on Wednesday, as Italy took a three-point lead in Group C.

The Azzurri have won their last five matches 2-0, and are unbeaten in 25 games under Mancini, which brings him level with Marcelo Lippi's best haul – only Vittorio Pozzo (30) has managed a better such streak.

Lippi guided Italy to a 2006 World Cup success, and Mancini did not shy away from wanting to emulate one of his predecessors.

"I'm happy we are top of the group, it's pleasing, but records are standalone issues compared to real results," he told reporters.

"I hope to match Lippi at the World Cup, maybe in December 2022."

With three qualifying wins under their belt, Italy's focus will now switch to the upcoming Euros, rearranged from last year.

Mancini picked a 38-man squad for this latest round of internationals, and suggested it would be prudent for UEFA to accommodate larger squads than the usual 23 at this year's tournament. 

"I think it could be a good idea to be able to name bigger squads for Euro 2020," Mancini said.

"I think it could be the right thing to do. The problem would above all be if a couple of players had problems in the tournament, as it's difficult to call them back after that, when players are on vacation."

Italy recorded 29 shots against Lithuania, with 11 of them on target – the excellent Tomas Svedkauskas pulling off nine saves.

Immobile, who scored from the spot with the last kick of the game, was particularly wasteful, sending a close-range header wide after seeing two efforts saved by Svedkauskas.

The 31-year-old Lazio forward has scored eight goals in World Cup qualifiers, the joint-third most in Italy's history – along with Daniele De Rossi – and Mancini believes fatigue played a big part in Immobile's profligate display.

"Ciro gave everything he could today," Mancini added. "The players aren't in the best shape right now, they are lacking sharpness, but the goals will come more consistently for him."

Italy continued their 100 per cent start to World Cup qualifying as Stefano Sensi and Ciro Immobile sealed a 2-0 win over Lithuania.

With main rivals Switzerland not in action on Wednesday, Roberto Mancini's side capitalised to take a three-point lead at the top of Group C.

Sensi's 47th-minute effort put them ahead, with Immobile, who had squandered several gilt-edged chances, scoring a penalty with the final kick of the game.

Immobile's previous profligacy would have proved costly if not for Gianluigi Donnarumma, Italy's goalkeeper producing a fantastic save from Tautvydas Eliosius to set the stage for the Lazio forward to make amends from the spot late on.

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