Italy matched a national team record as a 5-0 thrashing of Liechtenstein stretched their winning streak to nine games, but head coach Roberto Mancini’s still sees areas where they can improve.
The Azzurri, who qualified for Euro 2020 by beating Greece at the weekend, eased to victory against Group J minnows Liechtenstein on Tuesday.
Victory means the current crop have equalled the achievement of the Italy team that played under Vittorio Pozzo, with their run spanning from May 1938 to March 1939.
Mancini, however, is more interested in another Pozzo record, as he explained following proceedings at the Rheinpark Stadion.
“Matching Pozzo’s record of victories is nice, but I’d rather match his record of winning two World Cups!” Mancini, who also said there was still plenty of improvements for his side to make, told Rai Sport.
“It was natural with so many changes that we’d lack some consistency. There were some positives, other things we can improve, but the main issue was that these players haven’t really worked together before.”
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Federico Bernardeschi opened the scoring inside two minutes – the Azzurri’s fastest goal since June 2013 – though Italy had to wait until midway through the second half to double their lead.
Andrea Belotti headed home in the 70th minute, sparking a flurry of goals, the forward grabbing another after Alessio Romagnoli and Stephan El Shaarawy had also scored.
El Shaarawy’s goal marked his first Italy appearance since 2017 and the former Roma and AC Milan forward admitted it was an emotional moment.
“There was a bit of everything. It was emotional for me, very satisfying to be back on the field in an Italy jersey,” El Shaarawy told Rai Sport.
“I feel Italy really deserved this qualification and these results, as we are all working so hard and are very pleased with how things are going.
“I was so hungry to be out there, as my last game for Italy was two years ago, the play-off that saw us fail to reach the World Cup. I needed to change the impressions from that match.”