Italy advanced to the Euro 2024 finals after a 0-0 draw with Ukraine in the last round of qualifiers on neutral turf in Leverkusen on Monday.
It was a showdown for a Euro 2024 spot as the two sides were locked together on 13 points, with Italy only needing a draw to secure the place due to a superior head-to-head performance.
Luciano Spalletti made several changes to Italy’s starting line-up, as Nicolo Zaniolo started in a three-forward line spearheaded by Giacomo Raspadori. Davide Frattesi, who bagged a brace in the two sides’ previous meeting, got the nod in the middle of the park, and Alessandro Buongiorno came in to partner Francesco Acerbi at the back, while Chelsea star Mykhailo Mudryk led Ukraine’s squad.
It was an open game in the initial stages as Federico Chiesa ballooned over from close range, while at the other end Heorhiy Sudakov forced a one-handed save out of Gianluigi Donnarumma.
As time wore on, the Azzurri dominated the game as Nicolo Barella’s rocket was parried away, while Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s header went wide of the post.
Italy should have broken the deadlock in the 29th minute when Chiesa’s through pass sent Frattesi clear, but his low strike was denied by Anatoliy Trubin, before Raspadori failed to get on the end of Chiesa’s cross.
The Euro 2020 winner continued to dominate after the break, but it was Ukraine who almost went ahead in the 65th minute, as Donnarumma performed well to shield Mudryk’s attempt.
In a desperate bid for a win, Ukraine poured forward in the dying minutes, while Italy’s defense kept them at bay, though they survived a huge scare in stoppage time as Ukraine had a strong penalty appeal after Mudryk went down in the box, but the referee waved play on.
With the result, Italy places second in Group C with 14 points, six points behind group winner England, while third-placed Ukraine now heads into the play-offs.