Despite several injury and suspension setbacks, Italy sailed past continental minnows Malta 4-0 at Stadio San Nicola on Saturday night. A landslide victory over the Mediterranean whipping boys has solidified Gli Azzurri’s grip on the UEFA European Championship 2024 qualification.
Following a frustrating 1-1 draw against North Macedonia on Luciano Spalletti’s touchline debut, the Italians have hit the ground running in qualifying Group C. A keenly-contested 2-1 home win over Ukraine last time out brought Italy back on track, while today’s thumping of Malta could inspire more confidence around the camp ahead of Tuesday’s trip to England.
Italy took an early lead through in-form Fiorentina ace Giacomo Bonaventura before Sassuolo winger Domenico Berardi doubled their advantage on the stroke of halftime. The same man struck again just after the hour mark to make it 3-0. Second-half substitute Davide Frattesi put the icing on the cake with another international goal to seal an overwhelming 4-0 triumph.
Saturday’s victory puts Italy in pole position to reach next summer’s tournament in Germany. But there’s no room for complacency as Spalletti’s men face a daunting trip to Wembley Stadium to encounter Group C leaders Italy in three days. Tonight, however, they could savor another success.
Let’s look at our player ratings.
Gianluigi Donnarumma – 6
After a nightmarish night in Skopje and another failed attempt to register a shutout against Ukraine, the under-fire Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper was only a spectator tonight. But a clean sheet, despite not facing a single shot on target, could boost his morale ahead of the England clash.
Federico Dimarco – 6.5
With Malta failing to produce any attacking threat, the Inter wing-back had a dream night as he had a chance to spend most of the night on the opposition half. Given his club form, it’s surprising he struggled to impact the game more.
Alessandro Bastoni – 7
He has had some shaky moments for Inter in recent weeks, but he was at the top of his game tonight, slamming the door shut in front of Donnarumma’s goal while keeping his passing clean and precise.
Gianluca Mancini – 7
Roma’s defensive cornerstone translated his decent club form to the international stage, proving too fast and strong for his opponents. His aerial presence blew Malta forwards out of the water.
Matteo Darmian – 6
Back to his natural position, another Inter star delivered a top-notch defensive performance, though you’d expect more from him in the front third against a side of Malta’s stature. However, he was quiet in attack.
Giacomo Bonaventura – 7
In addition to breaking the deadlock with a screamer, the skilled midfielder kept his markers busy all evening long, delivering another scintillating performance.
Manuel Locatelli – 6
While he barely misplaced a pass, it wasn’t a flashy showing from the deep-lying playmaker. He refused to take risks in a match where he was expected to do so.
Nicolo Barella – 7
His work ratio is unmatched, as was since he first burst onto the big scene. He outrun and outmuscled his rivals, putting on another electrifying display in the middle of the park.
Domenico Berardi – 8
He was too sharp for Malta! A clinical performance from the left-footed forward! Both goals were well-taken and fully deserved as he destroyed their markers on his international return after missing out on September’s break with injury.
Giacomo Raspadori – 6.5
Though he has nothing to show for it, the Napoli striker made a menace of himself tonight with quick movements off the ball and fast interchanges with his offensive teammates. A decent overall showing from the ex-Sassuolo starlet.
Moise Kean – 6
A lack of game time at Juventus has seemingly left its mark on the former Everton man. He couldn’t make the difference against a sub-par rival, meaning he will unlikely play a prominent role against England next Tuesday.
Riccardo Orsolini – 6
His hopes of maintaining his free-scoring Bologna form fell to pieces as he struggled to gain a foothold in the game since coming on.
Davide Frattesi – 7.5
Super-sub is perhaps the most accurate description. Following a match-winning brace against Ukraine, the Inter star added to his international tally with another composed finish.
Destiny Udogie – 7
Came on late but still had enough time to grab an assist.
Gianluca Scamacca – 6
A near-anonymous performance, albeit he had very little time to showcase his talents.
Cristiano Biraghi – N/A
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