Udine is a happy venue for Italy who have never lost in Friuli. A win with five goals scored was an important result as the aim remains to catch Spain who beat FYR Macedonia 2-1 tonight. Gian Piero Ventura asked for three points from his side and they delivered by finishing the season with a brilliant performance to remain at the top of the group with Spain who Italy will face on 2nd September in Madrid.
The Stadio Friuli was coloured green, white and red with Italy lining up in a 4-2-4 formation. Buffon was in goal, Barzagli was at the back in place of the suspended Bonucci alongside Chiellini, Darmian and Spinazzola. In midfield, De Rossi and the debutant Pellegrini were in the middle (eleventh player to make his debut under Ventura). In attack, Immobile and Belotti were the strikers with Candreva and Insigne out wide. Italy started strongly and found the net after two minutes through Candreva but the goal was incorrectly ruled out for offside.
The technical difference between the sides was clear even if Liechtenstein had broken a run of eight straight defeats with a draw against Finland. Italy were proactive with the need to win and win well weighing down upon them and they created a lot but were a bit imprecise in attack. In the ninth minute, a passage of play sent Immobile through but his shot was too central and Jehle saved down low. There were similar moments in the 27th minute as Insigne was denied and another in the 29th as some good play between Belotti and Immobile didn’t come off.
There was a moment of fear for the Azzurri in the 31st minute as Polverino narrowly missed Buffon’s post from 30 metres. Four minutes later, Italy took the lead through a piece of Lorenzo Insigne magic after he previously scored in Udine in a friendly against Spain and it was his first goal in a qualifying match.
There were no changes from the manager Ventura at half time. The Azzurri only needed seven minutes to double their lead. Insigne played a through-ball to Belotti, who scored his fourth goal for Italy, three of which have come against Liechtenstein. Two minutes later, Immobile hit the post from close range, before Jehle got his hands on the ball.
The first substitution took place after 15 minutes, with Bernardeschi coming on for Candreva. The second came six minutes later with Immobile making way for Eder. The latter entered the spotlight a little later, after 28 minutes his goal was disallowed for offside but a minute later he picked up on a cross from Belotti to give the Azzurri a 3-0 lead.
Gabbiadini then came on for Belotti and shortly after Bernardeschi scored the goal to make it 4-0 from long range, before Gabbiadini himself set the final 5-0 scoreline by capitalising in injury time on a precise assist from Spinazzola.