ZENICA, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Reuters) – Italy stretched their perfect record in Euro 2020 qualifying to nine wins after goals from Francesco Acerbi, Lorenzo Insigne and Andrea Belotti gave them a 3-0 victory at Bosnia and Herzegovina in a lop-sided Group J qualifier on Friday.
The Italians, who were already assured of advancing, top the group with a maximum 27 points and were joined by second-placed Finland (18 points) who reached their first major tournament with a 3-0 home win over Lichtenstein in the early kickoff.
Bosnia dropped to fifth on 10 points and although Finland’s victory dashed any slim hopes they had of finishing in the top two, the Balkan country can still progress to next year’s tournament via the Nations League playoffs in March.
With Finland’s success reducing the game to a dead rubber, it was played at walking pace for long spells but the gulf in class was apparent as defender Acerbi fired the visitors ahead with a fine individual effort in the 21st minute.
Insigne doubled Italy’s lead with a bouncing shot on the turn in the 37th, while goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma denied Bosnia’s Ermin Bicakcic and Adnan Kovacevic with a pair of excellent saves at the other end.
Disgruntled home fans treated Belotti to a standing ovation after the striker made it 3-0 with a spectacular 53rd-minute goal, as he took a through ball in his stride and beat Ibrahim Sehic with a thunderbolt from 18 metres.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)