The stakes were extremely high for the Ukraine-Italy European Championship qualifier, as both teams still had a chance to qualify, but for that the Ukrainians would have had to win, while the Italians could qualify for a draw. Despite this, the officially visiting Italy started better, Federico Chiesa had the first serious chance of the match played in Leverkusen in the 7th minute, but after receiving a brilliant pass, he shot just over the bar from close range.
Turning to the last quarter of an hour of the game, the Italians threatened again, Davide Frattesi received a good ball, with which he jumped out of the Ukrainian defenders, but he could not pass past the dislocated Ukrainian goalkeeper, Trubin made a brave save. In the otherwise extremely entertaining, intense match, Ukraine also hit the opponent’s goal several times, but Donnarumma didn’t have to sweat once, he easily kept his net intact.
In the continuation – similarly to the first half – the Italians were more active, but Chiesa again shot over his chance inside the penalty area, so there was still no goal. At that time, however, the Ukrainians had a huge goal-scoring opportunity, Chelsea’s lightning-quick attacker, Mykhailo Mudryk, was the first to get to the flat pass coming from the right wing, and he could shoot from the left, from the immediate vicinity of the goal, but Donnarumma made a brave save.
Photo: Getty Images
Because of this, the Ukrainians began to press even more than before, mostly they already possessed the ball and tried to create chances, which was not a miracle, since they were only one goal away from a certain participation in the European Championship. At the beginning of the last 20 minutes, Mudryk tried again, he shot from the center, from the front of the penalty area, but the ball missed the goal by inches. Approaching the end of the normal playing time, Ukraine attacked with everything on the table, but they did not manage to create a serious opportunity, the Italian defense was on firm feet.
Szerhij Rebrov, former coach of Ferencváros and current Ukrainian national team captain, sent almost all available forwards to the field for the last minutes. In the 89th minute, Sudakov shot the ball at him from a distance, from about 25 meters, and although the defenders blocked Donnarumma’s view, the attempt was ultimately a treat for the Italian goalkeeper.
IN THE 93rd MINUTE, MUDRYK FELL INSIDE THE BOX, BRINGING FRAZ TO THE ITALIANS, BUT IN THE END THE SPANISH REFEREE DID NOT AWARD A PENALTY.
After that, there were no more opportunities left for Ukraine, so despite the fact that it fought hard, in the end Italy fought with blood and sweat to participate in the European Championship, the end was 0-0. The Ukrainians, on the other hand, can still qualify for the tournament through the additional qualifiers.
In the other match of the group, the previously qualified England ended the qualifying series in North Macedonia, but Gareth Southgate’s team only ended in a draw after they were still losing at halftime.
In Group E, the Czech Republic defeated Moldova at home the Czech national team that reached the quarter-finals of the last European Championship ensured his participation in next summer’s continental tournament. Slovenia also qualified for the European Championship, beating Kazakhstan was no problem for them, so the Slovenians advanced in the group alongside Denmark.
European Championship qualifiers, last round
- Ukraine-Italy 0-0
- North Macedonia-England 1-1 (1-0)
- Czech Republic-Moldova 3-0 (1-0)
- Albania-Faroe Islands 0-0
- Northern Ireland v Denmark 2–0 (0–0)
- San Marino-Finland 1-2 (0-0)
- Slovenia-Kazakhstan 2-1 (1-0)
(Cover image: Getty Images)