By Chris King •
Updated: 18 Nov 2023 • 23:46
Image of football with flags on it.
THE defending champions destroyed North Macedonia this Saturday, November 18, to leave Italy on the verge of qualifying for Euro 2024.
They now face Ukraine next Monday 20, knowing that a draw will be enough to take them through to the tournament that is being held in Germany next June.
Italy took revenge for the 1-0 defeat in their play-off in Palermo that saw them miss out on the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.
As a result of today’s victory, the Italians moved up to second place in Group C. England top the group and have already secured their passage to the finals.
A Matteo Darmian header put Luciano Spalletti’s side in front after 17 minutes. Federico Chiesa doubled the lead in the 40th minute, one minute after Arsenal midfielder Jorginho failed to convert a penalty.
The 26-year-old Juventus winger made it 3-0 just before the break to put the Italians in a commanding position at halftime.
However, Italy were struck by two goals from the 24-year-old Cracovia midfielder Jani Atanasov in the 52nd and 74th minutes, to set up a nail-biting climax to the match at 3-2.
Italian fans breathed a huge sigh of relief when Napoli striker Giacomo Raspadori found the back of the net after 81 minutes. The game was put to bed when the 31-year-old Roma winger Stephan El Shaarawy bagged a fifth in the 93rd minute.
Serhiy Rebrov‘s Ukraine will be waiting for Italy in their ‘home’ match in Leverkusen on Monday after beating Polish club Legia Warsaw 2-0 today in a friendly.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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