Italy suffered a damning 5-2 defeat at the hands of Germany, as the Nations League experiments finally caught up with Roberto Mancini.
They changed nine players from the side that drew 0-0 with England, keeping only Davide Frattesi and Gianluigi Donnarumma. The Azzurri were top of the group with five points, while Die Mannschaft had drawn all three matches so far.
This result drops them down from first to third, because Marco Rossi’s Hungary earned a shock 4-0 victory away to rock bottom England.
Germany took the lead when Joshua Kimmich was left totally unmarked to burst through the centre and latch onto a David Raum cross from the left, given time and space to control and beat Gigio Donnarumma from 10 yards.
Bryan Cristante’s looping header was just over after a free kick and Raspadori almost pounced on a poor Sule back-pass, but Donnarumma needed a fine save to deny Hofmann after a good passing move with his angled drive.
Sane fired straight at Donnarumma, then the goalkeeper had to make a much tougher save on Werner at the near top corner.
Italy were struggling badly on a tactical level, with only 34 per cent possession and huge gaps in defence, so Roberto Mancini replaced Politano with Luiz Felipe Ramos and moved to three at the back. It was the Lazio defender’s international debut.
The tactical change didn’t help straight away, because Bastoni gave away a penalty with a ridiculous push on Hofmann. Ilkay Gundogan blasted his spot-kick into the roof of the net to put Germany 2-0 up going into the break.
Atalanta defender Giorgio Scalvini and Verona winger Gianluca Caprari came on for their senior Italy debuts. The Azzurri seemed far more aggressive, within five minutes Bryan Cristante and a Scalvini header whistling wide.
However, Bastoni’s nightmare continued with another error on a low cross, Spinazzola could only clear as far as Thomas Muller, who fired in from 12 yards.
Neuer made an extraordinary save from point-blank range on Barella, but the Inter midfielder was offside on Caprari’s through ball anyway.
Werner scuffed straight at Donnarumma and Caprari failed to make the acrobatic volley, but Germany added a fourth when Federico Dimarco kept Serge Gnabry onside, the cushioned knock-back an assist that even Werner couldn’t miss from close range.
Moments later, Donnarumma made a mess of his clearance under pressure on a Bastoni back-pass and Gnabry pounced to set up another Werner tap-in. It was the first time Italy had conceded five goals since May 1957 against Yugoslavia.
Italy did get a consolation goal, the first for 18-year-old Wilfried Gnonto, who was ready on the rebound when Dimarco’s angled drive was only parried by Neuer.
The final minutes were also affected by several pitch invaders who got away from the rather unimpressive stewards, while Anton Stach missed a sixth goal by inches in stoppages.
Dimarco almost made it 5-2 with a stunning, swerving strike that Neuer acrobatically palmed out of the far top corner.
Bastoni did get the goal eventually, his header at the near post on Dimarco’s corner.
Germany 5-2 Italy
Kimmich 10 (G), Gundogan pen 45 (G), Muller 52 (G), Werner 68, 69 (G), Gnonto 78 (I), Bastoni 94 (I)
Germany: Neuer; Klostermann, Sule (Tah 87), Rudiger, Raum; Gundogan (Stach 88), Kimmich; J Hofmann (Gnabry 64), Muller, Sane; Werner
Italy: Donnarumma; Calabria, Mancini (Scamacca , Bastoni, Spinazzola (Dimarco 66); Frattesi (Scalvini 46), Cristante (Caprari 46), Barella; Politano (Luiz Felipe 44), Raspadori, Gnonto
Ref: Kovacs (ROU)