Football: Italy steamroll lowly Liechtenstein 5-0 in World Cup qualifier

Italy's forward Andrea Belotti (right) celebrates with Italy's forward Lorenzo Insigne (left) after scoring a goal during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification football match between Italy and Liechtenstein at the Dacia Arena Stadium in Udine, on Jun
Italy's forward Andrea Belotti (right) celebrates with Italy's forward Lorenzo Insigne (left) after scoring a goal during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification football match between Italy and Liechtenstein at the Dacia Arena Stadium in Udine, on June 11, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

UDINE (REUTERS) - Lorenzo Insigne produced a masterpiece of a goal to set Italy on the way to an otherwise routine 5-0 win over minnows Liechtenstein on Sunday in their World Cup qualifier.

Andrea Belotti, Eder, Federico Bernardeschi and Manolo Gabbiadini also scored to keep Italy level on points with leaders Spain in Group G.

Spain, who won 2-1 in Macedonia, and Italy both have 16 points, but Spain's goal difference is better by four and they will have home advantage when the two sides meet in September.

Albania moved into third place with nine points after a surprise 3-0 win away to Israel, who also have nine but dropped into fourth on goal difference.

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The group winners qualify directly for the World Cup next year.

The eight best runners-up in the nine European groups go into a play-off round, with the winners of the four ties also going to Russia.

Italy coach Giampiero Ventura said his team were over eager in the first half.

"The first half was useful because it taught us that if you try to do too much, you end up doing nothing," he told reporters.

"Everything went well in the second half when our play was more lucid... I hope we have understood that good sense is always useful."

Antonio Candreva had the ball in the net after two minutes but the goal was disallowed for offside.

Liechtenstein held out for more than half an hour, and even came close to taking a sensational lead when Michele Polverino's 30-metre drive flew centimetres wide of Gianluigi Buffon's post.

The visitors were finally undone by Insigne's brilliance in the 35th minute.

The Napoli forward flicked Leonardo Spinazzola's cross on to his chest, then lobbed the ball over Peter Jehle and in off the post without letting it touch the ground.

Insigne also set up the second goal seven minutes after half-time when he slipped a perfectly-timed pass through three backpedalling defenders to send Belotti clear and the Torino forward side-footed a clinical finish past Jehle.

Substitute Eder added the third in the 75th minute, stretching to volley in from close range from Belotti's cross.

Bernardeschi, another substitute, added the fourth with a long-range shot which swerved away from Jehle, the 23-year-old Fiorentina winger's first international goal.

Southampton forward Gabbiadini turned in Spinazzolo's pass for the fifth in stoppage time.

Italy goalkeeper Buffon did not have a single save to make on his 169th appearance.