Italy recorded their first win since being crowned European champions as Moise Kean and Giacomo Raspadori inspired a crushing 5-0 win over Lithuania to strengthen their grip on top spot in World Cup qualifying Group C.
The two 21-year-olds impressed their manager by lighting up the first half, as Kean netted twice either side of an Edgaras Utkus own goal and Raspadori, making his first start for his country, also scored. “Everything is in their heads and their feet. If they are committed and work seriously, they have great futures. But it is up to them,” said Roberto Mancini.
It was the first time Italy, who endured frustrating draws against Bulgaria and Switzerland in their previous two qualifiers, had scored four goals in the first 30 minutes of a match. Giovanni Di Lorenzo inadvertently added a fifth when his second half cross-shot nestled in the bottom corner, as the Azzurri side extended their record international unbeaten run to 37 matches and opened up a six-point lead in the group.
No country has a bigger lead than Belgium, who won 1-0 in Belarus to move nine points clear in Group E and to the verge of qualification. Dennis Praet’s first-half goal left Czech Republic, who have played one game fewer, and Wales, who have two games in hand but could only draw with Estonia, battling for a play-off spot.
Leroy Sané scored one goal and made another as Germany made it three wins in a row with a resounding 4-0 victory over Iceland in Group J. The Germans took the lead in the fifth minute when Sané played in Serge Gnabry to score and added a second Antonio Rüdiger headed in a Joshua Kimmich free-kick. A constant threat with his quick dribbling and precise passing, Sané effectively killed the game off when he rifled the ball into the roof of the net 11 minutes into the second half. Timo Werner somehow failed to put Lukas Klostermann’s pass into an empty net but the Chelswa forward made amends by adding a late fourth.
Goals from Pablo Fornals and Ferran Torres earned Spain a 2-0 victory away to Kosovo in Group B and dragged them back into automatic qualification contention. Fornals produced a fine near-post finish from the angle on 32 minutes after smart build-up play from Carlos Soler and Álvaro Morata. Spain’s high backline was put under severe pressure by the hosts and they were indebted to profligate finishing before Torres sealed the win in the 90th minute from a counterattack. Luis Enrique’s side moved clear at the top of the group on 13 points from six games, four ahead of Sweden, who lost 2-1 in Greece.