AC Milan striker Gianluca Lapadula made the most of his opportunity to impress in an Italy shirt as he hit a hat-trick against renowned minnows San Marino on his international debut.
The 27-year-old was the oldest player in an extremely youthful and inexperienced Azzurri side, which included no less than nine debutants and had an average age of just 22.
Naturally, the world’s 204th-ranked side proved no trouble for an Italy side that had just two international caps between the starting XI with the home team shooting into a four-goal lead within 19 minutes.
The fact that Juventus are contesting the Champions League final on Saturday meant manager Giampiero Ventura could not select a large number of his mainstays, making for one of the most experimental sides in recent times.
There was little at stake for the nine debutants, however, and Lapadula made sure nerves were settled as Domenico Berardi set up his first Italy goal within 10 minutes.
Crotone star Gianmarco Ferrari and Atalanta’s Andrea Petagna scored Italy’s second and third in quick succession, hinting at another double-figure defeat for the tiny European state.
Lapadula soon grabbed a second but San Marino settled and wouldn’t concede for another half-an-hour, when the Milan star sealed his hat-trick early in the second half.
Mattia Caldara and substitute Matteo Politano filled their boots before San Marino substitute Giovanni Bonini hit into his own net to cap the scoring.
Italy must now prepare for the altogether tougher task of facing South American side Uruguay, which will be played at Lille’s Allianz Riviera in Nice.