Italy registered their second consecutive win in the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers as they dominated Malta 4-0 through Domenico Berardi’s brace in Bari.
The Azzurri’s prospect was cast a shadow by the betting scandal which saw Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo sent home as they were investigated by the police, Xinhua reports.
Head coach Luciano Spalletti opted for a 4-3-3 formation with veteran Giacomo Bonaventura getting his nod in the middle of the park while Giacomo Raspadori, Moise Kean and Berardi formed the attacking trident.
The home side was aggressive from the very beginning as Manuel Locatelli drilled wide while center-back Gianluca Mancini’s header smacked the woodwork. The defending champion eventually broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute when Bonaventura collected the ball in the box and tuned around to smash in a blockbuster for his maiden international goal.
Berardi doubled the lead before the break as he gathered from Nicolo Barella and finished with a brilliant left-footed curler. Italy continued their dominance after the break and added the third in the 64th minute when Kean failed to get on the end of Raspadori’s pass, but Berardi blasted it in, before substitute Davide Frattesi rounded out the scoreline in the dying minutes.
The win helped Italy maintain their second place in Group C with 10 points, three points behind England, ahead of the two sides’ head-to-head showdown at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday.