FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — Francesco Caputo became the oldest debutant to score for Italy as he helped the Azzurri beat Moldova 6-0 in an international friendly match on Wednesday.
Stephan El Shaarawy scored twice while Bryan Cristante and Domenico Berardi also netted their first international goals for Italy, which was 5-0 up at the interval after a first-half onslaught.
Mancini fielded an experimental Italy side ahead of the Nations League matches against Poland and the Netherlands on Oct. 11 and 14.
Caputo became the second oldest player to make his debut for the Azzurri — at 33 years, 62 days — and the Sassuolo forward scored Italy’s second goal in the 23rd minute, racing onto a through ball from Cristiano Biraghi and coolly slotting it past Moldova goalkeeper Alexei Koșelev.
Caputo has not given up on a surprise inclusion in next year’s squad for the rescheduled European Championship.
“I have to try to do well in the league before everything else and then I will always try to put the coach in difficulty,” Caputo said. “I’ll try right to the end and never say never. … Making my debut in an Italy shirt after a long journey and to do it with a goal is really the top.”
Italy had taken the lead in the 18th when Cristante headed in a corner at the near post.
Cristante was also involved in Italy’s third goal, floating a ball over the top for El Shaarawy to control and fire in from a tight angle.
The 27-year-old El Shaarawy, who plays for Shanghai Shenhua in the Chinese Super League, was making his first appearance for Italy in nearly a year.
Caputo almost got a second but as he was about to shoot, Moldova defender Veaceslav Posmac tried to clear the ball but instead kicked it into his own net.
El Shaarawy doubled his tally on the stroke of halftime as he beat a Moldova defender to get the final touch on Manuel Lazzari’s lobbed effort over the goalkeeper.
Italy had further chances in the second half before Berardi netted his maiden international goal, volleying in Vincenzo Grifo’s low cross at the back post.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports