Italy Complete Perfect Euro 2020 Qualifying with Massive 9-1 Win over Armenia

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistNovember 18, 2019

Italy's midfielder Nicolo Barella (C) celebrates with Italy's defender Alessio Romagnoli (L) and Italy's defender Giovanni Di Lorenzo after scoring during the Euro 2020 1st round Group J qualifying football match Italy v Armenia on November 18, 2019 at the Renzo-Barbera stadium in Palermo. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP) (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)
ANDREAS SOLARO/Getty Images

Italy completed their perfect UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying run on Monday, beating Armenia 9-1.     

Ciro Immobile and Nicolo Zaniolo both scored braces, while Nicolo Barella, Alessio Romagnoli, Jorginho, Riccardo Orsolini and Federico Chiesa also got on the score sheet. Edgar Babayan bagged the consolation goal for the visitors.

Belgium can join Italy as the only teams to be perfect in qualifying this year if they beat Cyprus on Tuesday.

The Azzurri had long ago locked up the top spot in Group J, finishing well ahead of Finland.

While there was technically nothing at stake in this match―other than Italy's perfect record―the two teams came out guns blazing, treating the fans to a fantastic opening half.

It took the hosts less than 10 minutes to take a two-goal lead, but only after Salvatore Sirigu made a key save after Babayan broke through the defence.

Chiesa picked out Immobile with a fine cross after eight minutes, and one minute after the Lazio man opened the scoring, Zaniolo of rivals Roma doubled the lead:

Immobile got the assist, with Zaniolo blasting the ball through the legs of Aram Hayrapetyan.

Chiesa nearly made it 3-0, firing just wide after a lovely attack, while Alexander Karapetian nearly made Leonardo Bonucci pay for a mistake, finding the cross bar with his effort.

The Juventus defender made up for his careless giveaway with a stunning pass for Italy's third goal, setting up Barella. Football Italia's Elio Salerno was impressed:

And the entertaining play continued. Chiesa deserved a goal for his efforts but hit the upright after a good delivery from Jorginho, before Immobile got his brace.

Zaniolo found the striker making his run, and given his strong form, he was never going to miss:

He even nearly bagged a first-half hat-trick, striking the upright with the final chance of the opening period.

Chiesa fired the first chance of the second half at goalkeeper Hayrapetyan, while Sirigu also flashed his talents with a smart save on Hovhannes Hambardzumyan.

Fiorentina's Chiesa was desperate to get on the score sheet, but incredibly enough, the woodwork again denied him after 57 minutes. Substitute Orsolini also went close, dragging his shot wide.

A fifth goal seemed inevitable, and it came after 64 minutes. Zaniolo bagged his second of the night, firing home a wonder strike. 

And the goals just kept coming. Romagnoli got in on the fun after 72 minutes, pouncing on a rebound, and just minutes later, the Armenians gave away a penalty, which Jorginho converted. 

Italy were gunning for their biggest-ever win at this point, edging ever closer to tying a 9-0 victory over the United States in 1948.

Orsolini headed home Italy's eighth, before Babayan gave the visiting fans something to cheer about with a fantastic strike out of nowhere.

Chiesa was the next man to score, finally getting his reward for a great outing:

Scorer Babayan left the pitch late with an injury, leaving the unfortunate Armenians with 10 men. Italy pushed hard to tie their record, but fell just one goal short.

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