Russia piled the misery on troubled Italy with a deserved 3-0 victory here on Friday in the final Euro 2012 warm-up for both teams, inflicting a three-game losing streak on the 2006 World Cup winners.
Having had their only other friendly against Luxembourg cancelled on Tuesday due to an earthquake in the Emilia Romagna region, this was Italy coach Cesare Prandelli’s one chance to test his side before the European Championships that begin next Friday in Poland and Ukraine.
He had hoped this game could give his team, who have failed to score in 300 minutes, a chance to forget the fall-out from the ugly sports-betting Calcioscommesse match-fixing affair going on back home.
But goals from lively Zenit St Petersburg pair Alexander Kerzhakov and Roman Shirokov, with two, condemned the 2006 world champions to a third successive friendly defeat without finding the net and proved they have a lot of work to do if they are just to get out of a group containing Spain, Ireland and Croatia.
The last time Italy lost three straight games was in 1983. Prandelli was remarkably calm considering his side’s capitulation and some shoddy defending. “We conceded too much, we made many errors but I hope we’ve made them all tonight,” he told Rai.
“We have five or six days to work and we have to correct something but physically they are ready. “Paradoxically it’s better to have lost badly here so we go back with our feet on the ground and now we’ll work hard.”