Roberto Mancini’s Italy turned on the style in their final Group J game in Euro 2020 qualifying with a 9-1 demolition of Armenia.
Roberto Mancini’s rampant Italy broke more records as they maintained their 100 per cent points return in Euro 2020 qualifying with a 9-1 thrashing of Armenia in Palermo.
The Azzurri had long since booked their place in next year’s finals and last week defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina for a 10th consecutive win for the first time in their history.
There was no slowing Italy in their final Group J game, though, as they turned on the style to end the campaign with 10 victories from 10.
An 11th straight win in all saw seven different Italy goalscorers in a match for the first time, as Ciro Immobile and Nicolo Zaniolo each netted twice.
Zaniolo, debutant Riccardo Orsolini and Federico Chiesa all notched their first goals for their country, with Nicolo Barella, Alessio Romagnoli and Jorginho also on target in a stunning success.
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@UEFAEURO) November 18, 2019
Mancini’s side were ahead in the eighth minute as Immobile stooped at the back post to head home Chiesa’s delivery.
The Lazio forward turned provider just a minute later as he sent through Zaniolo to calmly slot through the legs of the hapless Aram Hayrapetyan.
The home side were given a scare when Aleksandre Karapetian almost caught out Salvatore Sirigu with a superb lobbed effort off the crossbar, but Armenia’s woes at the other end continued in the 29th minute.
Barella beat Hayrapetyan to Leonardo Bonucci’s through ball and made it three, before Chiesa hit the post shortly afterwards.
Italy were soon celebrating again as Immobile latched onto Zaniolo’s threaded pass to convert, and the striker came agonisingly close to a first-half hat-trick when his effort from the left of the box hit the woodwork.
There were no further goals until the 64th minute, but Zaniolo made it five when he lashed a shot inside the right-hand post, then Romagnoli pounced inside the penalty area after more questionable Hayrapetyan goalkeeping.
It was seven in the 75th minute as Jorginho coolly netted from the penalty spot after Kamo Hovhannisyan’s foul on Orsolini, who soon scored himself from Chiesa’s cross.
And the pair exchanged roles after an excellent long-range Edgar Babayan consolation, with Orsolini delivering for Chiesa to head in the ninth.
What does it mean? Italy a team to watch at Euro 2020
There have been more taxing groups, but 10 wins from 10 is impressive going by any measure – particularly with victories of this margin. This youthful and exciting Italy side look capable of going deep at the Euros, bouncing back from the disappointment of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Goals from everywhere
They might not boast a forward of the calibre of Kylian Mbappe or Harry Kane, but one major plus for Mancini is that his team look capable of scoring goals from all over the pitch. They have 17 goals in their past three matches courtesy of a mightily impressive 12 different players.
Hayrapetyan’s night to forget
When you are beaten by a scoreline of this magnitude, an obvious starting point is the performance of the goalkeeper. While Armenia’s issues extended beyond Hayrapetyan’s display, his rash decision-making and poor handling contributed to a humbling defeat.
With their qualification campaign completed in some style, Italy can now look forward to next year’s European Championship. Armenia have time to recover before the next cycle.