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Rampant Italy advance in style

Italy 7-0 Liechtenstein
Two goals apiece from Giuseppe De Luca and Stephan El Shaarawy helped the Azzurri to an emphatic victory and guaranteed top spot in Group 7.

Giuseppe De Luca celebrates after scoring Italy's opener
Giuseppe De Luca celebrates after scoring Italy's opener ©Getty Images

Italy are assured of a place in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-offs following a 7-0 victory against ten-man Liechtenstein.

The Azzurri had a perfect record in Group 7 prior to their sixth and most recent outing, the 2-2 draw with the Republic of Ireland in June , but they returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion in Caserano. Giuseppe De Luca scored twice either side of Ciro Immobile, and Stephan El Shaarawy and Federico Viviani then found the net just prior to the interval to make it 5-0. El Shaarawy added another before Jacopo Sala's penalty made it seven with ten minutes left.

De Luca gave the Azzurri the perfect start when he slid in to meet El Shaarawy's cross on eight minutes, and he then laid on Immobile for the second 20 minutes later. The visitors' task became a mountainous one when Olcay Gür was dismissed on 35 minutes, with De Luca soon capitalising with a composed finish having latched on to Marco Capuano's through ball.

El Shaarawy struck the fourth after a neat one-two with Immobile, before Viviani's spectacular fifth from distance. Though Liechtenstein provided more resistance after the break, El Shaarawy's second and Sala's spot kick completed the rout.

"Maybe everybody took it for granted that we would win, but I am very happy with the approach and the performance," said Italy coach Devis Mangia. "For the first 20 minutes, it was hard to find gaps, but we did well to get in front of goal despite the limited room. This really is a united squad and that is the most positive thing for a coach. I don't make any calculations [about possible play-off opponents] and say one is better than another, I'll just accept the draw."