The Azzurre maintain their perfect record in World Cup qualifyingItaly beat Lithuania in Vilnius. Bertolini: “On the right track”
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Tempo, concentration, precision, great pieces of play and excellent goals. Italy Women’s performance today was excellent, with Milena Bertolini’s girls sweeping aside Lithuania to pick up their fourth consecutive win in World Cup qualifying. The Azzurre took to the pitch in a determined fashion, breaking the deadlock through Cernoia’s 13th-minute gem. Following the Juventus midfielder’s perfect free-kick, first-half goals from Pirone and Giacinti followed, while Gama and Caruso also got on the scoresheet after the restart to secure a 5-0 win.
Four wins from four, then, which is just what the Azzurre wanted to achieve going into their six-pointer against Switzerland on Friday 26 November (17:30 CEST) at the Stadio Renzo Barbera in Palermo. Four days after the match against the Swiss, Gama and Co will face Romania away from home. These will be two must-win fixtures as Italy look to finish 2021 in the best possible fashion and take a big step towards the next World Cup.
“We’re happy; the girls produced a good performance this evening,” said Milena Bertolini after the game. “We’ve worked a lot on our speed and movement in the past few days. I asked the team to switch things up in terms of short passing and playing balls in behind and the results were there to see, even if we could have scored more goals. Those who came on in the second half did well, which is a good sign. In November, two other vital matches await. To finish first, we’ll have to win all our matches, but we’re on the right path.”
THE GAME – As it was on Friday in Castel di Sangro, the Azzurre went with a 3-4-3 formation, rather than the more familiar 4-3-3. Bertolini did, however, make some changes to the personnel; Giuliani returned in goal followed a suspension, Lenzini replaced Salvai in defence, while Galli started ahead of Rosucci. Bergamaschi played on the right and Bonansea on the left. Up top, Girelli was rested and Pirone – fresh from her first goal for Italy – started.
The hosts started brightly and Lithuania number 10 Petravičienė was the spark; in the second minute, she picked out Jonušaitė in the box but her headed effort whistled wide. This early scare spurred the Azzurre into action as they tried to circumnavigate the packed defence by whipping in deep crosses. After scoring the opener against Croatia, Cernoia also handed Italy the lead in Lithuania with a stunning free-kick placed right into the top corner. The Juve dynamo then kicked off the move that lead to the Azzurre’s second; she played a perfect ball into Pirone, who headed past the goalkeeper. Milena Bertolini’s side continued to dominate and, in the 35th minute, extended their lead through Giacinti – her fourth goal in World Cup qualifying. The Rossonere forward beat the offside trip and fired past Lukjančukė – the goalkeeper had no chance.
The rhythm of the game didn’t change after the break; the Azzurre continued to push for more goals. A chance to do just that cropped up in the 54th minute and on hand to stick it away was captain Gama, who beat Lukjančukė with a powerful effort from inside the box. Bertolini made a raft of changes over the next few minutes, sending on Girelli, Glionna, Guagni, Salvai and Soffia. These five changes didn’t alter Italy’s mentality. The Azzurre were clearly well aware of the necessity to increase the goal difference, which could be decisive at the top of Group G. In the 83rd minute, Glionna’s cross found Caruso, who netted her second Italy goal. Milena Bertolini’s girls still have a complete tally of points in Group G and haven’t yet conceded a single goal. In a month’s time, Italy face Switzerland in a crucial top-of-the-group clash that could decide who eventually makes it to the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
LITHUANIA 0-5 ITALY(0-3 ht)
Goals: 13’ Cernoia, 23’ Pirone, 35’ Giacinti, 53’ Gama, 83’ Caruso
LITHUANIA (5-4-1): Lukjančukė; Ruzgutė, Neverdauskaitė, Piesliakaitė, Liužinaitė, Mikutaitė; Lazdauskaitė, Gailevičiūtė, Vaitukaitytė, Petravičienė; Jonušaitė.
Subs: Savickaitė, Jurgaitytė, Toropovaitė, Valikonienė, Čiapaitė, Žatkina, Kyžaitė, Griksaite, Žėglevičiūtė, Narbutaitė, Liužinaitė, Rogačiova.
Coach: Rimantas Viktoravičius.
ITALY (3-4-3): Giuliani; Gama (76’ Salvai), Linari, Lenzini; Bergamaschi (54’ Guagni), Caruso, Galli, Bonansea (67’ Soffia); Ceronia, Giacinti (67’ Glionna), Pirone (54’ Girelli).
Subs: Durante, Schroffennegger, Boattin, Di Guglielmo, Greggi, Cantore, Serturini.
Coach: Milena Bertolini.
Referee: Jelena Medjedovic (SRB). Assistants: Ivana Jovanovic (SRB) and Aleksandra Stojanac (SRB). Fourth official: Milica Milovanovic (SRB).
Bookings: Gailevičiūtė (L), Jonušaitė (L), Caruso (I)