Italy’s unbeaten start to World Cup qualifiers continued on Sunday night as they recorded a comfortable 2-0 win away to Bulgaria.
Andrea Belotti’s first-half penalty gave the former world champions a first-half lead before Manuel Locatelli scored a second late in the second half.
Italy started the match brightly and felt they should have been awarded a penalty in the seventh minute after a melee in the box.
They had to wait until the 43rd minute for the opener though, and it came from the spot after Daniel Dimov made a rough challenge inside the box.
The referee pointed to the spot and Belotti easily converted to give his side a 1-0 lead at the break.
Italy had another penalty appeal in the 47th minute after Federico Chiesa went down under a challenge from a defender, and despite all the Italian players chasing the referee, play continued.
It was the hosts’ turn to appeal for a penalty in the 58th minute after a defender handled the ball inside the box, but the referee did not want to have any of it again.
Belotti then came closest to doubling the visitors’ lead in the 73rd minute after gathering a cross inside the box and managed to strike the ball nicely, but his shot only hit the right-hand post.
Ciro Immobile wasted two clear chances, but Locatelli finally got the second for Italy after Lorenzo Insigne teed him up nicely inside the box.
The win means Italy top their group on six points after matchday two, having won their first match with a similar margin against Northern Ireland.
In another match, Serge Gnabry scored the lone goal as Germany beat Romania 1-0 in their second match.
The Bayern Munich forward had the easiest of tasks as he tapped in a Kai Havertz ball from inside the box with 17 minutes on the clock, and it proved the decisive striker.