Italy survive major VAR scare as Euro 2024 holders hold off Ukraine to qualify


Defending European champions Italy qualified for Euro 2024 after a goalless draw against Ukraine in Germany.

The point ensured Italy finished second in Group C, level on 14 points with third-placed Ukraine but with a better head-to-head record after a tense affair that could have gone either way.

Ukraine, who have never beaten Italy, had strong claims for a stoppage-time penalty after Bryan Cristante’s clumsy challenge on Mykhailo Mudryk but nothing was given.

Ukraine can still book a spot at a fourth consecutive European Championship via the play-offs in March. The play-off draw will take place on Thursday in Nyon.

Meanwhile, Italy ended six points behind Group C winners England, who had sealed qualification after beating Luciano Spalletti’s side 3-1 at Wembley in October.

How Italy secured their Euro 2024 place

Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma reacts after the Euro 2024 group C qualifying soccer match between Ukraine and Italy at the BayArena in Leverkusen, Germany, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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Italy’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma celebrates reaching Euro 2024

The match at the BayArena in Leverkusen got off to a lively start but both goalkeepers – Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma and Ukraine’s Anatoliy Trubin – held firm in an entertaining clash.

Italy, who will make their eighth consecutive appearance at the Euros, had most possession and created more chances but Ukraine remained composed as they looked to counter-attack.

Italy’s Federico Chiesa had a chance to break the deadlock in the seventh minute but his effort from inside the box flew narrowly over the bar before Donnarumma denied Ukraine an opener seven minutes later by keeping out Georgiy Sudakov’s low shot.

Defender Giovanni Di Lorenzo then nearly nodded home for Italy from a corner just before the half-hour mark before Trubin pulled off a stunning save to deny Davide Frattesi.

Italy continued to dominate after the break but Ukraine’s probing increased and Mudryk came close in the 66th minute only to be denied by Donnarumma who pulled off another fine save.

Slovenia and Czech Republic also qualify for Euro 2024

Slovenia will be at the Euros for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century after finishing second in Group H behind Denmark.

A late goal from Benjamin Verbic saw Slovenia beat Kazakhstan 2-1 and qualify for the tournament for the first time since Euro 2000.

The Czech Republic will join Slovenia in Germany next summer after beating 10-player Moldova 3-0 at home to seal second spot in Group E.

Albania finished as Group E winners after a goalless home draw against the Faroe Islands meant they finished above the Czech Republic thanks to a superior head-to-head record.



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