Italy beats Fluminense 5-3 in World Cup warm-up
VOLTA REDONDA, Brazil (AP) — Ciro Immobile scored a hat trick and also set up two other goals as Italy ended its recent slump by beating Brazilian club Fluminense 5-3 in a World Cup warm-up match Sunday.
The Azzurri had entered on a seven-match winless streak and this match was deadlocked at 2-2 at halftime before Italy scored three goals in a two-minute span at the start of the second half.
Lorenzo Insigne opened the scoring in the 23rd and Chiquinho equalized two minutes later.
Immobile scored his first in the 31st then Carlinhos equalized in the 37th.
Immobile put Italy ahead for good in the 53rd then scored again a minute later before crossing to Insigne for another easy score in the 55th.
Substitute Matheus Carvalho pulled one back for Fluminense in the 64th.
Italy opens the World Cup against England in Manaus on Saturday then faces Costa Rica and Uruguay in Group D, one of the tournament’s toughest.
Before an enthusiastic crowd of 17,000 at the Estadio da Cidadania, Italy started with a squad of mostly reserves, as the likes of Mario Balotelli, Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi only came on midway through the second half. Balotelli was the victim of a hard foul and was limping for a few seconds before resuming normal running.
Four-time Brazilian champion Fluminense stands second in the domestic top flight, although the Rio de Janeiro club was missing its captain, Fred, who is on Brazil’s World Cup squad.
Four goals were scored over the space of 14 minutes in the first half.
Italy struggled at the start but then scored first with such ease the crowd wasn’t immediately sure if the goal was valid.
Andrea Parolo provided a through ball to Immobile who beat the offside trap then slid it across to Lorenzo Insigne for a tap-in.
Two minutes later, Chiquinho equalized by pounding in a cross from Gustavo Scarpa from close range.
In the 31st, a header from Immobile found the top corner following a free kick from Insigne.
Then in the 37th, Carlinhos dribbled by Italy right back Ignazio Abate and scored when third-string goalkeeper Mattia Perin couldn’t hold on to his powerful shot.
In the second half, Immobile scored from a rebound following a shot from Alessio Cerci then finished off a counterattack being sprung forward following a long vertical pass from Alberto Aquilani.
Finally, Immobile stole the ball deep in Fluminense and was unselfish to set up Insigne to make it 5-2.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli should like what he saw from Immobile and Insigne in attack.
Immobile, who topped the Serie A chart with 22 goals for Torino then just signed with Borussia Dortmund, was a physical presence inside the area.
Insigne, the diminutive Napoli forward who was controversially selected ahead of Giuseppe Rossi, showed his speed on the wing and precision on free kicks and corners.
All in all, the victory was welcome relief for Italy after drawing 0-0 and 1-1 with Ireland and Luxembourg, respectively, before flying to Brazil. The Azzurri hadn’t won since beating the Czech Republic in September to qualify for the World Cup. Still, it wasn’t an international friendly and officially, Italy is still on a seven-match winless streak.
Prandelli made 10 substitutions and only fullback Matteo Darmian played a full 90 minutes.
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