Italy ease past minnows
Azzurri put four past San Marino in pre-qualifier stroll
Last Updated: 31/05/13 10:21pm
Andrea Poli: Broke the deadlock for Italy
Italy enjoyed an ideal warm-up for next week's World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic as they swept aside San Marino 4-0 in Bologna.
But for San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini the scoreline could have been embarrassing as Italy attacked at will, especially in the first half.
Andrea Poli opened the scoring in the 28th minute with Alberto Gilardino doubling the lead six minutes later.
Andrea Pirlo curled home a long-range free-kick five minutes after the break with Alberto Aquilani rounding off the scoring in the 79th minute.
As would be expected, Cesare Prandelli's side were on top from the outset and were within inches of taking a fourth-minute lead.
Pirlo delivered an inswinging corner from the left which found Gilardino in the six-yard box and his header came back off the post.
Simoncini then saved Giacomo Bonaventura's close-range shot with his feet while both Pirlo and Alessandro Diamanti fired over the bar from distance.
Italy were relentless going forward and Simoncini had to superbly tip Aquilani's shot around the post before parrying Diamanti's shot.
Simoncini was the only thing standing between Italy and a landslide victory and he was soon in action again, thwarting Gilardino's close-range shot.
However, the goalkeeper could only repel so much and it was no surprise when the hosts took the lead in the 28th minute.
Pirlo's cross was punched by Simoncini but Poli pounced to slot the ball home.
Pirlo was again thwarted but Simoncini was powerless to prevent Italy doubling their lead.
Aquilani's shot from the centre of the area was parried only for Gilardino to reach the ball first and slot it into the bottom right-hand corner
The goalkeeper thwarted Diamanti and Bonaventura before the break, which will have come as a relief to the under-siege visitors.
Simoncini did not reappear for the second half which was only five minutes old when Italy scored their third, Pirlo curling home a 25-yard free-kick.
At long last San Marino threatened in front of goal when Andy Selva's 30-yard free-kick was unconvincingly gathered by Gianluigi Buffon.
Poli's shot was comfortably taken by replacement goalkeeper Federico Valentini, before half-time substitute Mario Balotelli struck the post with a 25-yard free-kick.
Aquilani worked Valentini before the same player scored Italy's fourth of the night in the 79th minute.
Pirlo's free-kick was fumbled by Valentini with Aquilani pouncing on the loose ball and slotting home from close range.
Valentini tipped Balotelli's shot around the post and parried Alessio Cerci's shot as Italy searched for a fifth but they had to be content with four.