Play-off in the qualifying for Euro 2024: Ukraine made Italy sweat, but could not score
On November 20, the national team of Ukraine played its last match in the group stage of the Euro 2024 qualifiers in Leverkusen, where our players faced the current continental champion Italy and, despite all efforts, failed to break through Donnarumma and drew 0-0. This result suited Spalletti's men, who reached the continental championship.
The meeting at the Bay Arena, where the Blue and Yellows were the nominal hosts, turned out to be very nervous and dynamic. On the eve of the confrontation in Germany, both teams had 13 points each, but Italy's victory in a head-to-head meeting in Milan allowed it to maintain second place and qualify for the Euros even in the event of a draw.
Therefore, in order to win a ticket to the championship directly, without entering the playoffs, Serhii Rebrov's team needed only a victory. And a victory over an extremely uncomfortable opponent.
Prior to this match, the Ukrainian national team had never beaten Italy, and even more so: only two draws were recorded in 9 matches. Therefore, the Blue and Yellows had to do something to put an end to this unpleasant tradition in the confrontation with the Azzurri.
About 30 thousand fans gathered at the Bay Arena to support their team. And one of Rebrov's most unexpected personnel decisions was a rotation in the center of defense, where Dnipro-1 defender Oleksandr Svatok took the place of Shakhtar's Mykola Matvienko. A little earlier, the coach unhooked Dynamo defender Oleksandr Karavaev, his LASC colleague Maksym Talaverov and Shakhtar midfielder Yehor Nazaryna.
Both teams came out on the field extremely wound up. According to rumors, the legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was setting up the team for this battle. Ukraine was supported by its former coach Andrii Shevchenko. The scandalous story with UEFA also added fuel to the fire, saying that they wanted to see star-studded Italy at the Euros, but not war-torn Ukraine.
The first dangerous moment in the match was created in the fifth minute by our players when Tsyhankov shot from outside the penalty area, but Donnarumma was on the spot. The Italians responded just a minute later, competently playing a corner near Trubin's goal, but, fortunately for the hosts, Chiesa, left unattended in our penalty area, scored over the crossbar.
Gradually, Italy took the initiative, so the reigning European champions had more possession of the ball. But Ukraine counterattacked dangerously too. Mudryk fired from the left flank in the 12th minute, and then in the 13th, but none of his partners could close his passes as the opponents were the first to get to the ball.
And in the 14th minute, a small fire even started in the Donnaruma penalty area. Sudakov could have scored, but the Italian goalkeeper managed to fold and pull the ball out of the right corner. In the 16th minute, Ukrainian fans had to get nervous, but Trubin managed to react to a shot from outside the Barela penalty area.
Closer to the 20-minute mark, the Italians decided to outplay our defense with set pieces, but it didn't pay much dividends. The guests also tried to involve Napoli forward Giacomo Raspadori in the attack, but Mykolenko was watching him.
However, in the 28th minute, it was very hot at our goal after a corner kick, but Di Lorenzo missed the goal from a few meters. And a minute later, Trubin really saved Ukraine by winning his duel with Frateza, who escaped from the defenders and could have opened the scoring in this match.
Somewhere after the 20th minute, Ukraine completely lost possession of the ball, and the Italians picked up the pace and staged a siege of the opponent's goal. However, somewhere our defense managed to work out, somewhere Trubin took a competent position, and somewhere Rebrov's wards were frankly lucky. The guests themselves could not properly handle the ball for an accurate shot.
The Ukrainians became more active in the last 10 minutes of the first half as there were shots into the opponent's penalty area, but they lacked the final shot. As well as Spalletti's team, which tried to go into the locker room as the leader before the break.
The second half also began with attacks by the Italians, who wanted to decide the outcome of this match as soon as possible and finally qualify for Euro 2024. Ukraine responded with counterattacks, with Sudakov and Mudryk leading the way.
In the 65th minute, Donnarumma almost brought a goal to his side but he failed to fix the ball after it bounced off the goal. Mudryk failed to finish, hitting the defender. A minute later, Dovbyk and Tsyhankov organized a great attack. And if Viktor, being in front of someone else's goal, had managed to push the ball to Sudakov, the opposing goalkeeper would have had few chances.
After being shaky at the start of the second half, the Ukrainians looked much more interesting and dangerous than in the first half. There was more consciousness in the actions. But Rebrov's team also lacked the finishing touch. The visitors tried to aggravate Skamakka, but Trubin mostly controlled the situation.
Seven minutes before the end of regular time, the Italians began to stall. The referee even warned Donnarumma verbally.
In the last minutes, the Ukrainian national team made a final assault on someone else's goal. And if not fear, then apprehension was seen in the eyes of the European champions. In one of the episodes, Mudryk fell in someone else's penalty area. It seemed that the rules had been violated against him, but the referee simply refused to review the episode for a penalty, interpreting it in favor of Italy.
As a result, despite all the efforts of the Ukrainians, the referee recorded a 0-0 draw, which brought the Italian national team to Euro 2024, leaving Rebrov's team to fight for a ticket to the playoffs. The draw will take place on November 23.
Earlier, OBOZ.UA reported that Stakhovskyi lashed out at the Italian national team coach because of his defense of Russia.