The front line was on fire for Cesare Prandelli's side as it moved to within two wins of a place in the Euro 2012 finals with a crushing victory over the Balkan side.Italy trounced Estonia 3-0 in Modena on Friday night to remain in complete control of Euro 2012 qualifying Group C.
Goals from Giuseppe Rossi, Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini were the least Cesare Prandelli's men deserved after a thoroughly dominant performance which left the northern Europeans chasing shadows for most of the game.
It was a chastening experience for the minnows as the 1968 European champions took them apart almost from the first minute.
Italy was the better side from the beginning. Cassano had his best two chances early on, both in the right channel, but he made things too easy for keeper Sergei Pareiko on both occasions.
Alberto Aquilani thought he had given the Azzurri the lead when his header from Andrea Pirlo’s deflected cross escaped Pareiko’s grasp, but he was penalized for grabbing the shirt of Raio Piroja.
The keeper was eventually beaten in the 21st minute when Cassano put in Giuseppe Rossi on the left, and after a couple of neat touches helped him get the ball out of his feet, the Villarreal man fired low into the far corner to give Italy the lead.Rossi nearly doubled the home side's advantage when he unleashed from distance, but the ball cannoned back off the post with the overworked Pareiko scrambling across. Antonio Cassano did grab the second though shortly before halftime when he collected Riccardo Montolivo’s touch, rolled Sander Puri and struck low off the far post.
Three and easy | Rossi opens the floodgates for Italy in ModenaAfter the break Andrea Pirlo so nearly added a third as Italy saw a second shot come back off the post. The Juventus midfielder’s free kick had the beating of Pareiko but caught the outside of the upright to the relief of the visitors.
It was 3-0 soon after though as Giampaolo Pazzini broke away on the end of Montolivo’s lofted pass and, with Pareiko back-pedalling, took his time before slotting home.After 88 minutes of inactivity, Gianluigi Buffon was finally forced into action when Martin Vunk unleashed a cracking drive from 30 yards, but the Azzurri skipper watched it all the way and held on superbly.
The victory sends Prandelli's side five points clear of second-placed Slovenia with a game in hand four matches from the end of the campaign, meaning just two more victories will be enough to send it to Poland and Ukraine in a year's time. Estonia, meanwhile, has a steep climb ahead of it as it now sits four points off a possible playoff spot.