Mancini wants titles, not records

Italy's Andrea Belotti (in white) heading in one of his two goals in the 5-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win over Liechtenstein on Tuesday. It was the Italians' ninth win in a row, having won all eight of their qualifiers. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Italy's Andrea Belotti (in white) heading in one of his two goals in the 5-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win over Liechtenstein on Tuesday. It was the Italians' ninth win in a row, having won all eight of their qualifiers. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

VADUZ (Liechtenstein) • Italy coach Roberto Mancini is interested only in winning a European Championship, not the impressive run his revitalised side have chalked up.

The Italians, already qualified for Euro 2020, maintained their perfect record in Group J and clinched a record-equalling ninth win in a row with a 5-0 thumping of Liechtenstein on Tuesday.

They have 24 points from eight games while second-placed Finland have 15, five ahead of Armenia and Bosnia. The top two teams qualify for Euro 2020.

Italy's run, which includes a friendly win over the United States followed by their eight Euro qualifiers, is their longest since 1938-39 under Vittorio Pozzo.

"Am I interested in equalling Pozzo's record? I would be interested in winning two World Cups and an Olympic Games like he did, but a European Championship would do just fine," said Mancini.

The 54-year-old made 10 changes to the side who beat Greece 2-0 on Saturday to clinch qualification, and gave a debut to defender Giovanni di Lorenzo.

Liechtenstein nearly stunned the visitors after 40 seconds when Dennis Salanovic forced Salvatore Sirigu to save with his legs but, from the resulting corner, Italy broke down the other end of the field and Federico Bernardeschi put them ahead.

Andrea Belotti headed in from a corner in the 70th minute and, seven minutes later, Alessio Romangnoli headed in his first Italy goal from Stephan El Shaarawy's cross. El Shaarawy, with a breakaway goal, and Belotti, with another header, rounded off the win.

"We struggled a bit because we didn't find the second goal right away, but with so many changes it was inevitable to spend a little time finding the right chemistry," said Mancini, who took over in May last year after Italy's failure to qualify for the World Cup.

"The important thing is that all the lads are really involved.

"And the truth is that, on June 1, I will be forced to make some important choices and some kids will have to miss out."

Italy next play Bosnia on Nov 15 with Liechtenstein travelling to Finland.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2019, with the headline 'Mancini wants titles, not records'. Print Edition | Subscribe