Italy broke an 80-year record with a comfortable victory away to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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Italy cruised to a ninth win in nine Group J matches against a Bosnia and Herzegovina side who are destined for the play-offs.
It was an even encounter in Zenica, but clinical finishing from the visitors secured them the points and a record tenth consecutive victory.
Centre-back Francesco Acerbi got the ball rolling with a fine strike for his first international goal, before Lorenzo Insigne’s precise finish doubled the lead. Andrea Belotti added a sublime third after the break.
Bosnia and Herzegovina had their moments, mainly from Miralem Pjanić’s excellent corners, but they were unable to find a way back into the game.
Italy win their tenth game in a row to beat an 80-year-old national record. The Azzurri have won all their games in 2019 but coach Roberto Mancini is fully aware that next year is the most important, with Rome hosting the opening game of UEFA EURO 2020. A great goalkeeper, a solid defence, a talented midfield and several youngsters ready to grow. There is still plenty of work to do but the Azzurri are once again on the right path.
State of play
- Bosnia and Herzegovina are out of contention to qualify through this group; they are guaranteed a play-off place as UEFA Nations League Group B3 winners.
- Italy have already qualified for UEFA EURO 2020 as Group J winners.
Roberto Mancini, Italy coach
“I think we played a very good game tonight especially because Bosnia are a very good team with quality everywhere on the pitch. We have tried to give this team a new philosophy and things are going well.
“I don’t like to talk about individual players because everybody played well tonight, otherwise you don’t win 3-0 in a difficult stadium like this. Tonali is a different player to Verratti but certainly played well in his place tonight.”
Andrea Belotti, Italy striker
“Mancini has done a great job, he has given us clear ideas in a short period of time. We are proud of the record of ten consecutive wins but we have other objectives and dreams.”
Francesco Acerbi, Italy defender
“I'm happy with my first goal for Italy. It was not easy because Bosnia had nothing to lose and they tried to attack but we controlled the game well and we deserved this victory. I'm happy to play now but we all know that Chiellini is the first choice when he returns from his injury. He is an animal and we are all waiting for him."
Miralem Pjanić, Bosnia and Herzegovina midfielder
“Italy are a good team and deserved their victory tonight. We should have done better in this group. We had the chance to qualify but we didn’t deserve to because we haven't played to our potential in all our games.”
- Midfielder Gaetano Castrovilli and goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini made their international debuts for Italy.
- Italy have won their last ten matches and are unbeaten in 13 games (W11). They had never recorded a ten-match winning streak before tonight.
- Italy have racked up 28 goals in their last nine matches. They only scored 14 in their previous 18 games.
- Thirteen of Italy’s last 17 goals have been scored in the second half.
- Italy have only failed to score twice in their last 19 matches.
- Italy have only conceded three goals in their last 12 matches.
- Italy are now unbeaten in 39 UEFA European Championship qualifiers (W33 D6), since a 3-1 away defeat by France on 6 September 2006. This is the longest unbeaten run by any nation in EURO qualifiers.
- Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti both scored their ninth international goals for Italy.
- Edin Višća won his 50th cap for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina have only won three of their last 11 matches (L6).
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Šehić; Kvržić, Kovačević, Bičakčić, Kolasinać; Pjanić (Jajalo 77), Bešić (Sarić 61), Cimirot, Krunić; Višća (Hodžić 61), Džeko
Italy: Donnarumma (Gollini 88); Florenzi, Bonucci, Acerbi, Emerson; Barella, Jorginho, Tonali; Bernadeschi (El Shaarawy 75), Belotti, Insigne (Castrovilli 86)