Italy coach Roberto Mancini hailed his rising stars after they rounded off their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign in exhilarating fashion with a 9-1 win over Armenia in Palermo.
Ciro Immobile and Nicolo Zaniolo stepped up and scored two goals each as Mancini’s much-changed line-up ensured the Italians finished Group J with a 100 per cent record from their 10 games.
And Mancini admitted he now faced the agonising prospect of leaving some of his star players out of the squad for the finals, for which the Italians will now start as one of the favourites.
Mancini said: “Let’s enjoy these 10 games we have won in the group because it is something that has never happened.
“We have six months to prepare for the European Championships and we need to improve a few things, but the difficulty will be having to leave at home someone who deserves to be there.”
Immobile paid tribute to Mancini, who continues to improve the Azzurri’s fortunes just two years after their unthinkable failure to qualify for the World Cup in Russia.
The Lazio striker said: “I am happy for the players and staff and I’m glad the fans gave us a big push.
“Now we’re looking forward to see who we are drawn against. We are aware of our strengths and I hope to win something because the team deserves it.
“I want to thank the coach for the opportunity. Things have finally been fixed in the national team, and I was very keen to make the most of it.”