Italy has qualified for the 2024 European Championship in Germany – but what a hard piece of work it was!
In Leverkusen, the Squadra Azzurra managed a 0-0 draw against Ukraine, which meant they finished second in Group C due to their better goal difference compared to the Eastern Europeans. Ukraine still has the chance to get their ticket to the European Championship through the playoffs.
It also got off to a fair but fiery start on the pitch, with both teams repeatedly pushing dangerously forward. Italy’s top striker Federico Chiesa (6th) missed the best chance from close range; on the other hand, keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma (14th) had to use all his skills against Georgij Sudakov.
Lucky for Italy: there is no penalty whistle
After about 20 minutes, things calmed down briefly and both sides were now more compact. But then Italy went up several gears, the scream for goal was on the Tifosi’s lips, but David Frattesi (29th) and Co. missed opportunity after opportunity.
Even after the break, the Azzurri initially set the tone, but Ukraine fought back with zeal – and suddenly Italy was swimming. After Michailo Mudryk’s shot from a tight angle, Donnarumma (65th) was once again in dire need, and a little later the captain also parried against Viktor Tsygankov (66th).
In stoppage time, Italy was also lucky that referee Jesus Gil (Spain) did not award a penalty after Bryan Cristante tackled Mudryk.
“For me it was a penalty, but there is VAR and we don’t decide,” said Ukraine head coach Sergey Rebrov.
“Italy in fear: Cristante touches Mudryk in the penalty area, referee and VAR allow play to continue,” she said Gazzetta dello Sport. “That was a very controversial scene that could put our qualification in jeopardy,” it said Corriere della Sera.
Touch or not? Frattesi unsure
Midfielder Davide Frattesi spoke on the state TV channel Rai about the scene: “The touching was probably not so clear, it seems that he didn’t touch him. However, when I see another replay, it seems that he did touch him after all.”
For Spain’s sports newspaper Marca, Italy “qualified with a controversy.” The Spanish referee “did not give a possible penalty that would have jeopardized Ukraine’s qualification for the European Championship and the replay for the Italians.”
The meaningless game between North Macedonia and group winners England ended in a 1-1 draw. Bayern star Harry Kane scored the final score in the 59th minute.
In addition to Italy, the Czech Republic (3-0 against Moldova) and Slovenia (2-1 against Kazakhstan) also got their ticket to Germany.
With sports information service