Italy qualified for the European Championships in Germany on Monday. A goalless draw against Ukraine was enough for the reigning European champions. England, already placed, did not get further than 1-1 against North Macedonia.
In Leverkusen, where Ukraine played the home game due to the war, it was exciting from minute one. After numerous chances on both sides, Italy came closest to the opening goal just before half time. Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s header flew just wide, after which Federico Chiesa also failed to get the ball against the ropes.
Ukraine almost made it 1-0 twice after the break, but Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma kept his goal clean. The team of national coach Sergiy Rebrov tried to squeeze out a final offensive and asked for a penalty after Mykhailo Mudryk fell, but referee Gil Manzano was having none of it. The score therefore remained 0-0.
It will be the eleventh time that the Italians participate in the European Championships. The ‘Azzurri’ became European champions in 1986 and 2021. The play-offs in March still offer a way out for Ukraine, which was present at the last three European Championships.
On December 2, the reigning European champion will know which countries it will face in the group stage. The European Championship draw starts at 6 p.m. in Hamburg.
England are stuck at a draw
In Skopje, England choked in North Macedonia: 1-1. National coach Gareth Southgate’s team fell behind in the first half after a costly mistake by debutant Rico Lewis.
The eighteen-year-old defender gave his opponent a tap while defending, after which the ball hit the spot. Enis Bardhi saw his penalty saved by Jordan Pickford, but he scored in the second instance.
After the break, Jack Grealish thought he could level the score for the ‘Three Lions’, but his strike was disallowed for offside. Not much later, substitute Harry Kane scored the equalizer, scoring off the shoulder of Jani Atanasov.
The English were already assured of the European Championship and ended the qualifying series as the leader in group C. North Macedonia, which did participate in the European Championship in 2020, remains stuck in the penultimate place with eight points from eight matches.