Italy, the defending champions, booked their spot at Euro 2024 on Monday by beating Ukraine to a tense 0-0 draw in their last qualifying game. The Czech Republic and Slovenia also earned their spots at next year’s games.
Italy only needed a tie in a game played in Leverkusen, Germany, to make it to the next round. If they lost to their main rivals in Group C, things would have come down to the play-offs next March.
They really wanted to escape that situation after the heartache of not making it to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups after losing in the play-offs, after winning the last European Championship in 2021.
The game was tense because of the high stakes, and Georgiy Sudakov’s early shot had to be stopped by Gianluigi Donnarumma’s strong hand down low.
Luciano Spalletti’s team, on the other hand, posed a threat. Before the half-hour mark, Ukraine custodian Anatoliy Trubin made a save on Nicolo Barella and ran out to stop Davide Frattesi.
In the 65th minute, Donnarumma stopped a shot from Mykhailo Mudryk. In extra time, the Ukraine player went down in the Italy box after being tackled by Bryan Cristante, but there was no penalty.
Both teams still need 14 points to finish second in Group C, 14 points behind England. However, Italy has the better record against them, having won 2-1 in Milan in September.
“We’re thrilled. We will be in Germany after all the problems we’ve had, and we will be going there as winners and ready to win, Donnarumma told Rai 1.
So, Ukraine needs to talk about the play-offs if they want to go back to Germany for the event in June of next year.
There was a news meeting after the game where Ukraine coach Serhiy Rebrov was asked about the late penalty call. He said, “From my point of view that was a penalty, but again I wasn’t there, and it’s just my emotions.”
The English were held in North Macedonia.
England had already qualified before they went to Skopje to play North Macedonia. They needed an own goal in the second half to tie the game 1-1 and finish the season without losing a game.
Just before halftime, Enis Bardhi scored the first goal for North Macedonia. He did this after Jordan Pickford saved his spot.
The penalty kick was given because VAR saw that Rico Lewis, making his start for Manchester City, had caught Bojan Miovski in the area.
Just before the hour mark, and right after Harry Kane came off the bench, England tied the game when Jani Atanasov put a Phil Foden corner kick into his own net.
The Czech Republic only needed a tie against Moldova at home in Olomouc to make it to their eighth straight Euro finals. A 3-0 win made it clear that they would make it.
David Doudera scored the first goal, and Vladislav Baboglo was sent off for Moldova early in the second half. Tomas Chory and captain Tomas Soucek scored late goals to seal the win.
The Czech coach quits.
They come in second place in Group E, behind Albania, who tied 0-0 with the Faroe Islands on Monday. However, their night was ruined when coach Jaroslav Silhavy quit right after the game.
“We agreed before the game that we wouldn’t play anymore, even though we’re happy now,” the 62-year-old boss told Czech TV.
Three players, including West Ham United goalkeeper Vladimir Coufal, were sent home from the team on Sunday because they went to a bar on Saturday night.
Their 2-1 win over Kazakhstan in Ljubljana put them in second place in Group H, behind Denmark. This is the first time since 2000 that Slovenia has been to the Euros.
After Ramazan Orazov scored for Kazakhstan to cancel out Benjamin Sesko’s spot goal, Benjamin Verbic scored the late winner for Slovenia.
A win would have put Kazakhstan in the event, but they will now go into the play-offs instead. They are still hoping to make it to their first big game.
Denmark lost 2-0 to Northern Ireland, with goals from Isaac Price and Dion Charles. Finland, on the other hand, beat San Marino 2-1 on the road to move on to the play-offs.