Domenico Berardi scores twice as Italy cruise past Malta

Italy scored two in each half to beat Malta 4-0 in an match from Group C of the European Qualifiers leading to EURO 2024 at the Stadio Sanm Nicola in Bari on Saturday.

The Maltese did their best to keep their opponents under control, even after conceding the first goal but the hosts doubled the scoring just before half-time, it was all over. Italy increased the lead further mid-way through the second half, adding another four minutes in added time. Throughout the whole ninety minutes, Malta failed to test Donnarumma.

Italy re-join Ukraine in second place on ten points, three behind leaders England but Italy and England have a game in hand. The two teams face each other at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday.

Photos courtesy of domenic aquilina

With Steve Borg ruled out through suspension and Teddy Teuma and Jodi Jones injured, Marcolini opted for for four changes from the team which lost to North Macedonia last month as Ferdinando Apap was included in the back three, Yannick Yankam partnered with Matthew Guillaumier and Bjorn Kristensen in midfield while Luke Montebello and Paul Mbong were employed up front.

Henry Bonello started in goal with Apap, Enrico Pepe and Zach Muscat at the back, Guillaumier, Joseph Mbong and Ryan Camenzuli on the flanks, Kristensen and Yankam in midfield with Montebello and Paul Mbong in attack.

On the other hand, Luciano Spalletti opted to start with Berardi, Raspadori and Kean in attack, with Barella, Locatelli and Bonaventura starting in midfield. Three Inter players were included in the back four: Darmian, Bastoni and Dimarco, the other being Mancini.

Italy went close to taking the lead after just five minutes when off a corner by Raspadori, Gianluca Mancini’s header hit the crossbar. 

As expected the hosts held the initiative but the Maltese rear-guard started to frustrate them with some good defending but on the 22nd minute, Italy took the lead courtesy of Giacomo Bonaventura whose fine shot from the left ended in the top right corner, beating Bonello.

Manuel Locatelli concluded just over the bar off a corner by Dimarco on the 29th.

However one minute in added time, Italy doubled the score thanks to Domenico Berardi whose curved shot from the right saw the ball hit the upright before ending at the back of the net. 

Italy extended the lead on the 64th minute when off a cross by Raspadori from the left, Domenico Berardi slotted the ball past Bonello. 

Deep into stoppage time, substitute Davide Frattesi made it 4-0 as he concluded a solo effort with a low shot from the edge of the area which beat Bonello in the bottom right corner.

Malta will be in action once again on Tuesday, hosting Ukraine a the National Stadium. 

Photos courtesy of domenic aquilina

ITALY Gianluigi Donnarumma, Federico Dimarco (79’ Destiny Udogie), Manuel Locatelli, Moise Kean (79’ Gianluca Scamacca), Giacomo Bonaventura (87’ Cristiano Biraghi), Giacomo Raspadori, Domenico Berardi (65’ Riccardo Orsolini), Matteo Darmian, Gianluca Mancini, Nicolo Barella (65’ Davide Frattesi), Alessandro Bastoni.

MALTA Henry Bonello, Ryan Camenzuli, Matthew Guillaumier, Joseph Mbong (66’ Cain Attard), Luke Montebello (55’ Alex Satariano), Enrico Pepe, Bjorn Kristensen (66’ Nikolai Muscat), Yannick Yankam (84’ Kyrian Nwoko), Paul Mbong (84’ Brandon Paiber), Zach Muscat, Ferdinando Apap.

Referee: Duje Strukan CRO
Assistant referees: Bojan Zobenica, Alen Jakšić CRO
Fourth official: Fran Jović CRO
Video Assistant Referee: Ivan Bebek CRO
Assistant Video Assistant Referee: Mario Zebec CRO