The Azzurri held off Serhiy Rebrov’s side to claim a spot at Euro 2024, 18 months after failing to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
It was a game of admittedly few clear chances, with both goalkeepers rarely tested, but constant pressure around both boxes. Davide Frattesi could have put Italy ahead after running through on goal, but saw his effort thwarted by a fine stop from Anatoliy Trubin. Gianluigi Donnarumma produced an equally important save in the second half to deny Mudryk with 30 minutes remaining. The big moment came late on, when Mudryk burst into the box, and appeared to have his ankles clipped, but saw protestations waved off — and the Azzurri held on for a scoreless draw.
Before tonight, Italy had only qualified for one of the last three major tournaments. The Euro 2020 champions didn’t appear in the 2018 World Cup, and failed to make the final cut for last year’s tournament in Qatar, after famously losing to North Macedonia in a playoff semi-final.
After announcing that he would be taking a year off, Luciano Spalletti was surprisingly quick to take the Italy job when Roberto Mancini was relieved of his duties. The former manager hasn’t exactly made it easy for himself, but if qualification was the goal, then he’s achieved it. This is a mixed Italy squad, a new generation being ushered in as the old guard filters out. They haven’t been world-beating. Still, it’s hard to argue with the results.
It’s truly hard to measure Mudryk’s performance. He spent a lot of the game running very fast, and doing lots of impressive things, but lacking in direction. Too often, he ran into trouble when he could have passed, or tried to spectacular over the simple. Ultimately, he can only consider himself unlucky for seeing a penalty shout waved off in second half stoppage time. It seemed he was flagrantly tripped by a defender. Instead of being a hero, he will now have to redeem himself in what will be a tricky playoff.
Italy have done the easy part — at least, it’s supposed to be! The Azzurri have qualified for Euro 2024, and will play a few friendlies before the tournament kicks off next summer. Ukraine, meanwhile, will have to go through the playoffs, and await their opponent.