Italy – Lithuania 5-0: Kean and Raspadori Cast Away Mancini’s Doubts

Italy wiped out Lithuania on Wednesday night to restart their march after two draws in a row and get closer to booking their ticket to World Cup 2022. After back to back ties with Bulgaria and Switzerland Roberto Mancini reshuffled his cards and put the front line’s responsibility on the shoulders of 20-year-old Moise Kean and Giacomo Raspadori. Neither of them would betray the coach’s trust.

Raspadori and Kean each bagged a brace, though the former’s first goal benefited from an unlucky deflection from the Baltics’ defense, whereas Giovanni Di Lorenzo rounded up the scoring in the second half to wrap a convincing 5-0 win for the Azzurri, whose record non-losing streak extended to 37 games.

Northern Ireland gave an additional hand to Italy as they held Switzerland to a goalless draw in Belfast, enabling the Azzurri to gain two points over their most dangerous contender on the way to Qatar. All in all, it was a triumphal night for Roberto Mancini’s band after two lackluster performances, though it needs to be said the Lithuania offered very little opposition at the Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia tonight.

Mancini resorted to a massive turnover compared to last Sunday’s game in Basel, due to both technical decision and injuries. There were nine changes versus the starting XI who tied to Switzerland, with the most appealing experiment being an unprecedented offensive trident formed by Federico Bernardeschi, Giacomo Raspadori, and Juventus’ “comeback kid” Moise Kean.

The match lasted about 30 minutes. That’s how much it took for Italy to build a four-goal lead over a Lithuania side that has never been a football powerhouse but now also seems to be dealing with one of their less-talented generations ever. Long gone are the days of the likes of Marius Stankevicius or Tomas Danilevicius, who all used to hold their own in Serie A at Brescia, Sampdoria or Livorno. The Baltics’ lone striker for tonight – Edgaras Dubickas – does plays in Italy, but in Serie C side Piacenza…

Moise Kean opened the scoring after 11 minutes, taking advantage of an Arvydas Novikovas ineffective clearance to steal the ball and pierce goalkeeper Ernestas Setkus to the near post. Three minutes later, Raspadori went for a shot from outside the box and found midfielder Edgaras Utkus’ unlucky deflection that left no chance to his own goalie.

The Sassuolo starlet found himself in the right place on 24 minutes, ready for a close-range tap in from another failed clearance from the Lithuanian defense to finally wrap his first goal as an Azzurro – no deflections this time. And, right before the half-hour mark, Kean showed no mercy for Lithuania as he made the best of a Bernardeschi service to make it four for Italy. Game, set, match.

The second half didn’t have anything to offer to the show. Mancini took the chance to try a few new things and also gave 45 minutes of playing time to veteran goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu, who replaced Gianluigi Donnarumma after the break. With their attention to Belfast, hoping that the Northern Irish fort would hold (and it did!), Italy still found the back of the net one more time when a Giovanni Di Lorenzo cross caught the goalkeeper by surprise and set the score at 5-0.

It was a goleada that helped replenish the Azzurri‘s goal difference, giving them another advantage over Switzerland in the battle for direct qualification to the World Cup – though everything will most likely be decided in November 12’s head-to-head at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.




September 8, 2021 – World Cup 2022 Qualifiers Group C

SCORERS: 11′ Kean, 15′ Utkus o.g., 25′ Raspadori, 30′ Kean, 54′ Di Lorenzo

ITALY (4-3-3): Donnarumma (46′ Sirigu); Di Lorenzo, Acerbi, Bastoni, Biraghi (46′ Calabria); Pessina, Jorginho (61′ Castrovilli), Cristante; Bernardeschi (61′ Scamacca), Raspadori, Kean (73′ Berardi) (Gollini, Chiellini, Bonucci, Toloi, Locatelli, Florenzi, Barella) Coach: R. Mancini
LITHUANIA (4-2-3-1): Setkus; Lasickas, Klimavicius, Utkus (46′ Satkus), Slavickas (46′ Barauskas); Dapkus (46′ Megelaitis), Slivka; Kazlauskas, Verbickas, Novikovas; Dubickas (72′ Uzela) (Krapikas, Gaspuitis, Gertmonas, Baravykas) Coach: Razanauskas

REFEREE: Pawson (England)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Klimavicius (L); Added Time: 1st Half 1′, 2nd Half 3′