Italy sinks Northern Ireland in 2022 World Cup qualifiers

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ROME, March 25 (Xinhua) — Italy opened its 2022 World Cup qualifiers with a comfortable victory on Thursday, conquering Northern Ireland 2-0 at Tardini Stadium.

It was the first game for the Azzurri since last November, Ciro Immobile spearheaded a three-headed attack flanked by Domenico Berardi and Lorenzo Insigne, Manuel Locatelli stepped in to partner Marco Verratti and Lorenzo Pellegrini in the middle of the park, while Leonardo Bonucci, who marked his 100th appearance for the national side, paired up with Giorgio Chiellini, with Gianluigi Donnarumma standing between the sticks.

Italy started strongly to break the deadlock in the 13th minute as Alessandro Florenzi’s pinpoint pass found Berardi who ran into the box before drilling home from a tight angle.

Immobile doubled the lead in the 38th minute on a textbook rapid-counter as the Lazio hitman gathered the ball from Insigne, surging into the box to finish with a left-footed strike.

Italy seemingly lost its intensity after the interval, and Northern Ireland earned several chances but was still toothless to beat Donnarumma.

With the opening win, Italy places second in Group C while Switzerland who won 3-1 away to Bulgaria tops the group. Enditem

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