Italy ran riot in Athens on Saturday, scoring three goals in 10 minutes to secure an easy 3-0 win against Greece, handing the hosts their first loss in the Euro 2020 qualifiers.
In front of 25,000 fans, including 300 Italians, the visitors had the upper hand from the start at the Olympic Stadium. However, they did not pose any threat to the Greek defense until the halfway point of the first half.
Nicolò Barella opened the scoring in the 23rd minute before Lorenzo Insigne perfectly placed his shot into the corner of the net seven minutes later. Leonardo Bonucci completed the Italian onslaught in the 33rd minute with his header beating a helpless Vasilios Barkas.
The Greeks will need to up their game considerably to beat Armenia on Tuesday at the same ground, as dropping any points there would be disastrous.
In other Group J action, Finland stunned Bosnia with a 2-0 win in Tempere while Armenia thrashed minnows Liechtenstein 3-0.
Greece have four points from three games so far and sit in third place along with Bosnia. Italy lead the way with a perfect nine points from three games while Finland are second with six points.
Greece coach Angelos Anastasiadis fielded three central defenders and no center forward, opting to keep Super League top scorer Efthymis Koulouris, on the bench, and start playmaker Kostas Fortounis as a false number 9.
The Greeks started pushing forward after the 20 minutes and paid for it immediately, as the absence of a proper right-back allowed Andrea Belotti to make inroads from the left and cross the ball to an unmarked Nicolo Barella who opened the score on 23 minutes.
Just seven minutes later Italy doubled their lead in another counter-attack, with Lorenzo Insigne storming into the box and powering a shot past defender Kostas Manolas and keeper Vassilis Barkas.
Then, after 33 minutes, it was another cross from the left for Italy by Belotti, with Leonardo Bonucci rising unchallenged from close range to head the ball in for 3-0. That was three goals in three chances for Italy and game over.
In the second half, Greece opted for damage limitation, in an effort to avert an even worse result. Fortounis had a decent shot palmed away by Salvatore Sirigu on the 69th, while the Italians had at least five chances to add to their tally.
Greece: 13 Barkas (GK), 3 Stafylidis, 4 Manolas, 5 Siovas, 19 Papastathopoulos, 21 Kourbelis, 8 Zeca, 22 Samaris, 10 Fortounis, 16 Masouras, 17 Kolovos
Italy: 1 Sirigu (GK), 3 Chiellini, 4 Palmieri, 6 Verratti, 8 Jorginho, 9 Belotti, 10 Insigne, 14 Chiesa, 16 Florenzi, 18 Barella, 19 Bonucci
GROUP J STANDINGS
Italy 9 pts (11:0)
Finland 6 pts (4:2)
Greece 4 pts (4:5)
Bosnia 4 pts (4:5)
Armenia 3 pts (4:4)
Liechtenstein 0 pts (0:11)
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