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Experimental Italy thump San Marino

31 May 2013 21:17:04

Experimental Italy thump San Marino

An experimental Italy side outclassed San Marino 4-0 three days before coach Cesare Prandelli trims his squad for the double challenge of a World Cup qualifier and next month's Confederations Cup.

In a largely one-sided game at Bologna's Stadio Dall'Ara, Andrea Poli, Alberto Gilardino, Andrea Pirlo and Alberto Aquilani were all on target as Prandelli ran the rule over his final, 23-man travelling party to be named Monday.

Italy face the Czech Republic away on June 7 and then travel to Brazil for the Confederations Cup a week later.

Prandelli's starting XI looked nothing like the sides he has sent out in various tactical formations in previous fixtures this season.

Employing a 4-3-3, the coach handed a rare start to Bologna's Alessandro Diamanti, who was flanked by Bologna club-mate Alberto Gilardino and Giacomo Bonaventura on what was the Atalanta striker's debut.

It meant no start for Mario Balotelli or Stephan El Shaarawy, however given their domination throughout it seemed Prandelli, on this occasion, could do without the AC Milan stars.

Only seven minutes in, Bonaventura almost handed Italy the lead when he got on the end of a knock down following a long ball from Pirlo, only to see the visitors' goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini pull off a fine one-handed save.

Midfielder Christian Maggio had the ball in the net but was ruled offside and then a well-struck, angled drive from Diamanti was on target but punched out by an alert Simoncini.

Gilardino made his plea for a place in the squad with a smart first-time shot from a long midfield ball just before the half hour.

But it was Poli who stole the show moments later, the Sampdoria midfielder pouncing on a loose ball and riding a sliding tackle before rifling the ball past Simoncini to score his first goal for Italy.

The hosts went 2-0 up on 34 minutes when Gilardino finished off good work from Aquilani, who had forced a save from Simoncini, to score on the follow-up.

Prandelli made a number of changes after the interval, with Bonaventura, Gilardino and Diamanti replaced by Cagliari striker Marco Sau, Balotelli and Alessio Cerci.

Only moments after the restart Gianluigi Buffon had to block from a dangerous position when a probing free kick caused confusion in Italy's area.

Calm was restored shortly after when Pirlo stepped up to score Italy's third with a curling freekick from 25 metres out.

The hosts continued to dominate and Balotelli spurned several chances before Aquilani wrapped up the win with a simple tap-in in the 78th minute.


AFP

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