Italy youngsters shine in Lithuania stroll


Reggio Emilia (Italy) (AFP) – Impressive Italy eased past Lithuania 5-0 in their World Cup qualifier on Wednesday to extend their record unbeaten run to 37.

Roberto Mancini’s European champions became the first Italian side to reach the half-hour mark four goals to the good.

Juventus’s young Everton recruit Moise Kean got the Group C leaders off the mark early, pouncing on a sloppy back-pass by Arvydas Novikovas to his keeper Ernestas Setkus.

Minutes later Giacomo Raspadori, on his international debut at his club Sassuolo’s home ground in Reggio Emilia, watched as his shot took a deflection off Edgaras Utkus for an own goal.

After a bright start Lithuania were back in familiar territory, staring at defeat.

Raspadori, no doubt disappointed not to have his name beside that goal, did not have to wait too long for that honour with a confident close-range finish after defender Justas Lasickas failed to clear Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s low cross.

On 29 minutes Kean connected with Federico Bernardeschi’s lobbed pass and conjured up a superb left-footed volley.

Italy’s fifth came from an unusual source with Di Lorenzo opening his account for his country with what started out as a right-footed cross to the back post and ended up in the back of the net.

Mancini had made a host of changes from the side that was held goalless in Switzerland on Sunday, with 21-year-olds Kean and Raspadori underlining the strength in depth the continental champions enjoy.

This rout, with Jorginho the captain for the first time, was just what they needed after their last two draws, while for Lithuania it extended their losing run this year to nine matches with two goals scored and now 27 conceded.

Italy top their group after six matches on 14 points from Switzerland on eight points but with two games in hand.

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