Euro 2012 - Russia knock three past Italy
Italy slumped to a third straight defeat as Russia scored three times in the second half to complete a 3-0 win in their pre-Euro 2012 friendly match in Switzerland.
After an open first period in which both sides spurned opportunities, Alexander Kerzhakov struck the opening goal on 60 minutes when he swept the ball beyond substitute goal Morgan De Sanctis from Roman Shirokov's pass.
Shirokov added a second goal when he slipped the ball home after Christian Maggio and De Sanctis failed to clear the ball on 75 minutes before Italy were guilty of more farcical defending when Shirokov popped up to nod home from close range on 89 minutes.
Italy have now lost friendlies to USA, Uruguay and Russia. Such results will matter little if they can come up with the goods against world champions Spain in their opening match of the Euro 2012 finals on June 10, but they will be concerned about the lack of cohesion in their defence.
Italy are hardly in rude health ahead of this tournament with coach Cesare Prandelli having to deal with match-fixing allegations in their domestic football. Left-back Domenico Criscito was left out of the Euro 2012 squad earlier this week after police formally warned him that he was under investigation.
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and defender Leonardo Bonucci, both in the squad ahead of Italy opening their Group C campaign against holders Spain, have denied reports they have been involved in illegal betting.
Russia open their Euro 2012 campaign against Czech Republic on the opening night of the tournament on Friday, and will fancy their chances of at least emulating their run to the last four of Euro 2008.
Dick Advocaat's side could have scored a few more goals in the first half with Kerzhakov cracking a post with a volley and Konstantin Zyryanov lifting a shot over the bar from 15 yards out on 28 minutes.
Shirokov then slipped a shot wide of goal before Gianluigi Buffon saved from Yuri Zhirkov as it became clear Italy's defence was creaking.
One of the bright aspects of the night for Italy was the performance of Mario Balotelli, who indulged himself with some wonderful skills in the first half.
The Manchester City forward forced Vyacheslav Malafeev to touch a shot over the bar on seven minutes before the Russian goalkeeper's replacement Igor Akinfeev denied Balotelli a fabulous goal when he tipped a wicked drive over the bar in the closing seconds.
For all their efforts, Italy came up short in front of goal but it is there lack of cohesion at the back that must be addressed in the final week before the finals begin.