Italy forward Domenico Berardi scored twice as the home side cruised to a 4-0 win over Malta in their Euro 2024 Group C qualifier on Saturday.
The European champion had few problems at the Stadio San Nicola in Bari, despite contending with injuries, against a Malta side without a win so far in the qualifying campaign.
Italy is second in the table ahead of Ukraine on goal difference, which earlier won 2-0 against North Macedonia. Both teams have 10 points, but Italy has a match in hand on all its group rivals except England, which tops the group with 13 points.
England hosts Italy in its next qualifier on Tuesday.
Giacomo Bonaventura opened the scoring after 23 minutes, netting his first international goal with a skilful right-foot curler into the top corner from just inside the penalty area.
Berardi increased Italy’s lead with a left-foot curler just before halftime and added his second goal in the 64th minute with a precise finish from a cut-back.
In the closing moments, Davide Frattesi scored the final goal of the night, skilfully slotting a low shot from the edge of the area into the bottom corner.
Hungary remains top of Group G after beating second-placed Serbia 2-1, with all the goals coming in the first half. Hungary has 13 points, three points above Serbia, with a game in hand.
In Group H, leader Slovenia beat third-placed Finland 3-0 with a Benjamin Sesko double, including a penalty, and a late goal by Erik Janza. It is level on 16 points with second-placed Denmark, which won 3-1 at home to Kazakhstan.