Boosted by their revamped, youthful attacking frontline, Italy registered a 5-0 victory over Lithuania in a Group C match of the World Cup qualifiers on Wednesday, putting an end to their winless streak since their victory in the European Championship.
Moise Kean scored twice and Giacomo Raspadori netted his first Italy goal — and forced an own goal — in an impressive first half for the Azzurri.
It was the first time Italy had scored four in the opening 30 minutes of an international match.
The two 21-year-olds, who were born within 10 days of each other, had started because of a number of absentees in the Italy squad, including senior team players Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Chiesa.
Meanwhile, after the break, Giovanni Di Lorenzo also scored his first goal for Italy.
Playing a Lithuania squad that were bottom of the group and had lost all eight of its games played in 2021, scoring two goals and conceding 20, Italy were hoping to get back to winning ways after two successive draws following its Euro 2020 final victory over England in July.
Italy drew first blood through Kean, who scored with the first real chance of the game in the 11th minute. Italy doubled its lead three minutes later when Raspadori’s effort took a deflection off Edgaras Utkus.
Raspadori, who plays for Sassuolo and thought he had scored his first Italy goal in his home stadium, celebrated in front of his family and friends in the stands but it went down as an own goal.
However, the youngster did open his Italy account just 10 minutes later. Di Lorenzo rolled the ball across the area toward Kean and it was intercepted by Lithuania defender Justas Lasickas, but his clearance fell straight to Raspadori, who fired it into the roof of the net from close range.
Kean doubled his tally in the 29th minute when he volleyed in a delightful ball over the top from Federico Bernardeschi.
That was a fourth Italy goal for Kean, who had scored two in his first three appearances for the Azzurri back in 2019.
Meanwhile, Gaetano Castrovilli almost also got his first Azzurri goal but hit the post late on as Italy extended its record unbeaten run to 37.
With the victory, Italy remain atop Group C and have extended their advantage to six points ahead of second-place Switzerland, who have played two matches fewer.
With inputs from the Associated Press