Home Euro Italy secures hard-fought ticket to Euro 2024

Italy secures hard-fought ticket to Euro 2024

by Kyle Bonagura
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Drawing 0-0 with Ukraine in Group C of the qualifiers on November 20, Italy secured a spot in the Euro 2024 finals by a superior goal difference over their opponents.

In a group where England dominated, Italy and Ukraine battled for the remaining spot to qualify for Euro 2024 directly. Facing each other in the final match, the two teams produced a tense but goalless draw. The 0-0 result was enough for Italy to secure the second spot in the group. Luciano Spaletti’s team finished with 14 points, the same as Ukraine, but they edged ahead due to a superior head-to-head record, having won 2-1 in the earlier encounter.

Raspadori (in white) misses a golden opportunity in the first half against Ukraine at BayArena, Leverkusen, Germany.

Ukraine somewhat lost the advantage of playing at home, as they had to play on neutral ground at the BayArena in Germany. On Italy’s side, they only needed a draw to achieve their goal, but they still aimed for a victory to compete for seeding rights in the draw for the finals. Spaletti’s men attacked relentlessly in the first half but failed to score and almost paid the price in the final minutes of the second half.

Federico Chiesa’s explosiveness created numerous opportunities for teammates in the first 45 minutes, but Nicolo Zaniolo, Davide Frattesi, and Giacomo Raspadori missed chances. Italy attempted 10 shots, with the expected goals (xG) reaching 1.29 in the first half, but they couldn’t find the back of the net.

The dynamics shifted in the last 25 minutes when Italy abandoned the ambition to win and settled for a draw. Ukraine pushed strongly, realizing time was running out. Mykhaylo Mudryk played impressively and came close to scoring, but Gianluigi Donnarumma denied the Chelsea star’s efforts. The PSG goalkeeper also frustrated Artem Dovbyk, while Viktor Tsygankov and Georgiy Sudakov only disappointed their teammates.

Italy’s most anxious moment came in injury time. Mudryk touched the ball in the penalty area and was fouled by Bryan Cristante. The referee did not award a penalty, and surprisingly, VAR quickly checked and made a similar decision. The Italian media believed that the away team was fortunate to escape the penalty, as the slow-motion replay indicated a foul by Cristante.

Italian players embraced each other to celebrate the draw, securing their direct qualification to the finals and a chance to defend their title. However, the draw result will place the defending champions in Pot 4 during the Euro 2024 draw on December 2. In the remaining match in Group C, England drew 1-1 against North Macedonia thanks to Harry Kane’s equalizer in the second half.

Ukraine is not overly disappointed as they still have a chance to advance through the playoffs, thanks to their good performance in the Nations League. In the Euro 2024 qualifiers, the top 20 teams from the 10 groups will directly enter the finals. The remaining 12 teams will compete in the playoffs in March 2024 to determine the last three teams, joining host Germany, to complete the 24-team tournament.


Ukraine: Trubin, Konoplya (Tymchyk 86), Zabarnyi, Svatok (Malinovskyi 90), Mykolenko, Stepanenko (Pikhalyonok 80), Zinchenko (Sikan 86), Tsygankov (Zubkov 80), Sudakov, Mudryk, Dovbyk.

Italy: Donnarumma, Dimarco, Buongiorno, Acerbi, Di Lorenzo, Barella, Jorginho (Cristante 71), Frattesi, Chiesa (Kean 80), Raspadori (Scamacca 46), Zaniolo (Politano 71 – Darmian 90).

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