European champions Italy secured the point they required
European champions Italy secured the point they required against Ukraine to qualify for Euro 2024 as Group C runners-up behind England.
After winning 2-1 in the reverse fixture, Italy only had to avoid defeat against Ukraine, with whom they began this crucial encounter level on points.
The Azzurri have been confirmed to play in next summer’s finals following a goalless contest in Leverkusen, Germany.
A play-off in March is the only chance Ukraine has of qualifying for the World Cup.
Mykhailo Mudryk went down under a challenge from Bryan Cristante amid passionate support at their ‘home’ venue amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of their country. Ukraine’s appeals for a stoppage-time penalty were dismissed.
Despite the late scare, Luciano Spalletti’s side qualified for their eighth consecutive European Championship, defending their crown in Germany.
It is well known that the war in Ukraine is still going on, said Ukraine chief Serhiy Rebrov.
In this environment, it is not easy for the players, they are always watching their phones, they’re watching the news, just like me. It is quite difficult to work in this environment.
We understand we are presenting ourselves as a very strong country, and I think today on the pitch, all the players showed we have character and we fight for our country.”
Only Rebrov’s Ukraine had previously defeated England, but they began positively in pursuit of the victory.
An end-to-end opening period saw Heorhiy Sudakov’s low strike force Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma into action, while Anatoliy Trubin saved Nicolo Barella’s penalty kick.
When Davide Frattesi was played in on goal, Trubin again came to Ukraine’s rescue, but Giacomo Raspadori failed to meet Federico Chiesa’s cross across the six-yard box.
Elsewhere on Monday, the Czech Republic and Slovenia both also qualified from their respective groups.