Italy takes second place ahead of Ukraine in Group C due to its superior head-to-head record
Reigning European champions Italy finished second in Group C behind England and secured the point they needed against Ukraine to qualify for the 2024 European Championship.
With a 2-1 win in the second leg, Italy only had to avoid defeat against Ukraine, with whom they were level on points at the start of this crucial encounter.
A hectic game in Leverkusen, Germany, ended goalless, securing the Azzurri a place in next summer’s finals.
Third-placed Ukraine’s qualification hopes rest on the play-offs in March.
Spurred on by passionate support at their ‘home ground’ and in the face of Russia’s ongoing invasion of their country, Ukraine’s appeals for an injury-time penalty were dismissed after Mykhailo Mudryk went down following a foul by Bryan Cristante.
But Luciano Spalletti’s side survived that moment of shock to ensure they will be in Germany to defend their title and qualify for the European Championships for the eighth year in a row.
“As you all know, the war in Ukraine continues,” said Ukraine leader Serhiy Rebrov.
“It’s pretty hard for the players, they’re constantly looking at their phones, they’re watching the news, just like me. It’s not easy to work in this atmosphere.”
“But we understand that we present ourselves as a very strong country and I think today all the players on the pitch showed that we have character and fight for our country.”
Rebrov’s Ukraine, the only team to have previously taken points against England, started positively in their pursuit of their desired victory.
Heorhiy Sudakov’s low shot forced Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma into action in a continuous opening period in which Anatoliy Trubin also made a fine save from Nicolo Barella.
The Azzurri gradually prevailed, but once again Trubin came to Ukraine’s aid when Davide Frattesi was played on goal while Giacomo Raspadori misfired on the lively Federico Chiesa’s ball from inside the six-yard box.
Donnarumma recovered superbly from his own failure to turn away a cross and parry Mudryk’s close-range effort as the game remained fraught at the increasingly tense BayArena, but Italy held on.
Former Napoli coach Spalletti, who replaced Roberto Mancini as Italy coach just three months ago, said: “We have a moment to pat ourselves on the back.”
“Now the level is increased. Now the fun begins.”
Elsewhere on Monday the Czech Republic And Slovenia both also qualified from their respective groups.
West Ham’s Tomas Soucek scored in a 3-0 win over Moldova to ensure the Czechs qualified behind leaders Albania in Group E – but coach Jaroslav Silhavy resigned after guiding them to qualification.
Meanwhile, Slovenia progressed to Denmark as runners-up in Group H with a 2-1 win against Kazakhstan.
- 2KonoplyaPosted at 79 minutesReplaced byTymchykat 86’minutes
- 4Svatok was substituted for Malinovsky after 90+1 minutes
- 6Stepanenko was substituted for Pikhalyonoka in the 80th minute
- 15Tsygankov was substituted for Zubkov in the 80th minute
- 17ZinchenkoSubstituted for Sikanat 86’minutes
- 1G Donnarumma
- 2Di Lorenzo
- 15 Acerbi
- 6BuongiornoBooked at 7mins
- 8Jorginho was substituted for Cristante in the 71st minute
- 20ZanioloSubstituted for Politano in the 71st minute. Substituted for Darmiana in the 90th + 2nd minute. minute
- 10 Raspadori was substituted for Scamacca after 45 minutes
- 14Chiesa was substituted for Keana in the 81st minute
- 22El Shaarawy
Referee: Jesus Gil Manzano
The game ends: Ukraine 0, Italy 0.
The second half ends, Ukraine 0, Italy 0.
Attempt blocked. Danylo Sikan (Ukraine)’s right-footed shot from the right side of the penalty area is blocked. Assisted by Oleksandr Pikhalyonok.
Foul by Gianluca Scamacca (Italy).
Oleksandr Tymchyk (Ukraine) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution Italy. Matteo Darmian replaces Matteo Politano.
Substitution Ukraine. Ruslan Malinovskyi replaces Oleksandr Svatok.
Alessandro Buongiorno (Italy) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Artem Dovbyk (Ukraine).
Attempt saved. Heorhii Sudakov (Ukraine) tries with his right foot from a distance, but the shot is saved in the bottom left corner. Supported by Mykhailo Mudryk.
Foul by Gianluca Scamacca (Italy).
Oleksandr Svatok (Ukraine) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution Ukraine. Danylo Sikan replaces Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Substitution Ukraine. Oleksandr Tymchyk replaces Yukhym Konoplya.
Delay over. You are ready to move on.
Game delayed due to injury to Heorhii Sudakov (Ukraine).
Attempt failed. Matteo Politano (Italy)’s left-footed shot from a distance goes high and wide to the left. Supported by Nicolò Barella.
Attempt blocked. Moise Kean (Italy)’s right-footed shot from a distance is blocked. Supported by Gianluca Scamacca.
Gianluca Scamacca (Italy) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Illia Zabarnyi (Ukraine).
Source : www.bbc.co.uk