Stefano Sensi and Ciro Immobile scored for Italy in a 2-0 victory over Lithuania on Wednesday, giving Roberto Mancini’s side three wins from three games in their 2022 World Cup qualification Group C.
Mancini made ten improvements to the team that defeated Bulgaria 2-0 on Sunday, and it showed in the first period when the visitors failed to break down Lithuania on their artificial pitch.
However, Italy went up a notch after the break, with half-time substitute Sensi scoring two minutes into the second half before Immobile scored a stoppage-time penalty to secure the three points.
Italy remains top of their division with nine points after a sixth consecutive win, with the Azzurri not conceding a single goal in that period.
Northern Ireland was held to a 0-0 draw by Bulgaria in Belfast on Wednesday’s other Group C play.
Italy is now unbeaten in 25 matches under Mancini, the joint-second longest streak for Italian managers, tied with Marcelo Lippi.
“The pitch was difficult, and it wasn’t even wet,” Mancini said, according to Rai Sport. “We also had a lot of opportunities to score.”
“The glass is just half complete. [Competitors in the group] Three days ago, Switzerland beat Lithuania 1-0 at home. These matches are always difficult; you can’t always be perfect, but the most important thing was to win.”
Despite Italy’s failure to build any noticeable opportunities early on, the outcome was never in doubt against inferior opponents.
Sensi, of Inter Milan, came off the bench and arrowed a shot into the net less than two minutes later.
There was only one troubling moment for Italy when Tautvydas Eliosius was faced with a magnificent opportunity to steal an unlikely equalizer, but Gianluigi Donnarumma made a fine save.