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Italy Falters, Ukraine Halts England in Euro 2024

Italy Falters, Ukraine Halts England in Euro 2024

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The defending European champions, Italy, had a disappointing 1-1 draw with North Macedonia in a Euro 2024 qualifier, which dealt a blow to their chances of qualifying for next year’s finals from Group C. Meanwhile, group leaders England secured an important point with a 1-1 away draw against Ukraine.

Italy, which previously failed to qualify for the last two FIFA World Cups, now faces the possibility of missing out on next year’s UEFA European Championship as well.

In coach Luciano Spalletti’s debut, Italy was held to a 1-1 draw by North Macedonia in a qualifying match on Saturday. While this result marked an improvement from last year’s loss to North Macedonia in Palermo, which had led to Italy’s elimination from the World Cup qualifying playoffs, it still fell short of expectations, especially considering that North Macedonia is ranked 68th by FIFA.

Luciano Spalletti has had limited time to work with the Italian national team since taking over at the beginning of the month, following Roberto Mancini’s abrupt resignation, and his subsequent appointment as Saudi Arabia’s coach.

Italy has managed to win just one of its three qualifiers so far, and that victory came against the last-placed Malta. As things stand, Italy is in third place in Group C, with England leading the group with 13 points, Ukraine in second place with nine points, and Italy and North Macedonia both tied at four points. Malta is at the bottom of the group with zero points.


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The top two teams from each group will qualify for the tournament, and three additional teams will advance from playoffs. While Luciano Spalletti is known for his attacking style, which led Napoli to the Serie A title last season, there were only sporadic glimpses of that flair on a Skopje pitch that was in poor condition during the match against North Macedonia.

Ciro Immobile marked his debut as the captain of the Italian national team by scoring a header shortly after halftime, giving Italy the lead. However, Enis Bardhi equalized for the home team with a free-kick in the 81st minute.

“We could have done better with quality, as they were defending with five men, so we should have split them apart more easily,” Spalletti said. “That was also inevitable with the state of the pitch, as it is not possible to pass with quality on that turf.”

Ukraine’s Victory

Ukraine put an end to England’s perfect start in the qualifying campaign by securing a 1-1 draw in Wroclaw, Poland. Oleksandr Zinchenko scored Ukraine’s opening goal with a side-footed finish in the 26th minute, while Kyle Walker equalized for England, scoring his first goal for the national team on his 77th appearance in the 41st minute.

Ukraine’s fans celebrated the result as if it were a victory, and the players showed their appreciation by applauding the supporters after the final whistle. Due to the ongoing conflict with Russia, Ukraine is playing all of its “home” games in Poland.

Zinchenko commented on the match, saying, “An amazing result for us. England are one of the best teams in the world. The atmosphere was unbelievable. It felt like we played at home. I really hope very soon we can play at home.”


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