Two-decade wait: Germany crush Italy to atone for England shock
Mario Goetze scores on his international comeback as world champions lay down marker for European Championship
World champions Germany crushed Italy 4-1 in their friendly international on Tuesday to equal their biggest win against their opponents and recover from a surprise loss to England as they put down a marker for the European Championship.
Goals from Toni Kroos, Mario Goetze and Jonas Hector in the first hour gave Italy no chance, with Mesut Ozil then converting a 75th-minute penalty after Sebastian Rudy was brought down.
A more secure defence, with centre-back Mats Hummels playing the full game, meant Italy were made to work hard for a trickle of chances and had to wait until the 84th minute for Stephan El Shaarawy to pull a goal back and deny Germany their biggest victory over their European rivals.
Yet it still equalled their previous best performance against Italy – another three-goal winning margin from a 5-2 victory in 1939.
“We had not won against them for years but tonight we were clever, we defended well and worked hard,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew.
“Against England we were missing some of our passion, the final touch, our focus. It was a lesson for us and so we wanted to show tonight that we can be concentrated over 90 minutes.”
Italy coach Antonio Conte said: “We faced the best team in the world. It was an important game in terms of evaluating our team. There is a gap we need to close.
“These tests were used to see the state of the team and make sure we are competitive, and now we have to make our assessments.
“I can’t accuse the guys of anything. They tried everything, gave everything... I don’t know what I can change six weeks before naming the squad,” said Conte, who is stepping down after the tournament.
Italy, who drew 1-1 with Spain in a friendly last week, face Belgium, the Republic of Ireland and Sweden in the group stage of Euro 2016.
Goetze had only played 53 minutes for Bayern Munich since a groin injury sustained against Ireland on October 8.
“I’m so happy. For me it was simply important to be able to play again after such a long injury, simply to be able to do what’s fun for me. Then to score as well,” Goetze said.