Rome: Italy secured a place in the Euro 2024 finals with a 0-0 draw against Ukraine in their last Group C qualifier on Monday, while the Ukrainians still have the opportunity to secure a spot through the playoffs.
European champions Italy finished second, level on 14 points with third-placed Ukraine, but with a superior head-to-head record after a tense affair that could have gone either way.
The Italians ended six points behind England, who sealed qualification after defeating Italy 3-1 at Wembley in October.
Ukraine, who have never beaten Italy, had strong claims for a penalty after Bryan Cristante’s clumsy challenge on Mykhailo Mudryk in stoppage time, but nothing was given.
They can still secure a spot at a fourth consecutive European Championship via the playoffs in March. The playoff draw will take place on Thursday in Nyon.
The match got off to a lively start, but both goalkeepers – Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma and Ukraine’s Anatoliy Trubin – held firm in an entertaining clash at BayArena in Leverkusen.
Italy, making their eighth consecutive appearance at the Euros, had the majority of possession and created more chances, but Ukraine remained composed as they looked to counterattack.
Italy’s Federico Chiesa had a chance to break the deadlock in the seventh minute, but his effort from inside the box narrowly flew over the bar before Donnarumma denied the war-torn side 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.