Stephan El Shaarawy bagged a brace and Francesco Caputo made history by scoring on his Italy debut, with Domenico Berardi and Bryan Cristante also on target in a 6-0 friendly win over Moldova.
This was an experimental Azzurri side ahead of the Nations League clashes with Poland and the Netherlands on October 11 and 14. It had three Sassuolo players in the starting XI, including Ciccio Caputo, who was making his senior Italy debut at the age of 33 years and 62 days, the second oldest Italy first-timer in history.
It was Moldova who had the first real chance after seven minutes, Salvatore Sirigu’s gloves stung by Ion Nicolaescu, who had sprung the offside trap and got round Francesco Acerbi.
Bryan Cristante had a shot deflected wide and Alexei Koselev rushed off his line to close down Stephan El Shaarawy on a Domenico Berardi through ball, but on the resulting Jack Bonaventura corner, Cristante’s glancing header surprised the goalkeeper at the near post. That was the Roma midfielder’s first senior Italy goal.
There was an even more special moment soon after, as Cristiano Biraghi’s inspired through ball allowed Caputo to spring the offside trap and he showed no nerves on his debut, beating Koselev one-on-one to mark it with a goal. He became the oldest ever player to score on his Italy debut, beating Leonardo Pavoletti’s record of 30 years and 120 days against Liechtenstein.
Moldova lost Catalin Carp to injury and Italy added a third goal. Cristante was involved again, floating the long ball over the top for El Shaarawy, who controlled, juggled and then turned in from the tightest of angles, all with the outside of his right boot.
The fourth was a little more chaotic, as Caputo controlled a ball floated over the top and in his attempts to kick it away for a corner, Veaceslav Posmac ended up scoring an own goal by mistake.
El Shaarawy added a fifth with the last kick of the first half. Manuel Lazzari ran on to a long ball and lobbed it over the on-rushing Koselev, but El Shaarawy won the sprint finish with Denis Marandici to get the final touch.
Once again, Moldova started the half with the first chance, Rata’s strike charged down in the penalty area by Biraghi. The Fiorentina left-back almost created a goal moments later, his ball flashing across the six-yard box just beyond Berardi sliding in.
Giacomo Bonaventura almost created another for Caputo with his back-heel flick, then saw his finish blocked by a desperate goalkeeping intervention.
Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno got his senior Italy debut, but Berardi celebrated his maiden goal, meeting a Vincenzo Grifo low cross at the back post.
Italy 6-0 Moldova
Cristante 18 (I), Caputo 23 (I), El Shaarawy 30, 45 (I), Posmac og 37 (I), Berardi 72 (I)
Italy: Sirigu (Cragno 67); Lazzari, Mancini, Acerbi, Biraghi (Emerson 67); Locatelli, Cristante, Bonaventura (Sensi 67); Berardi (Kean 75), Caputo (Lasagna 75), El Shaarawy (Grifo 67)
Moldova: Koselev (Namasco 46); Platica, Craciun (Mudrac 46), Posmac, Armas, Marandici (Reabciuk 46); Rata, Carp (Epureanu 29), Ionita; Suvorov (Cociuc 46); Nicolaescu (Milinceanu 79)
Ref: Siebert (GER)
Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £9.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://www.premiersports.com/subscribenow