Today: 21-04-2024

Azzurri Triumph: Italy Overcome North Macedonia, Setting Sights on Euro 2024 Qualification in Ukraine Showdown

ROME, Italy, Nov 17 (Reuters) — In a dazzling display of skill, Italy emerged triumphant with a 5-2 home victory over North Macedonia in a crucial Euro 2024 qualifying clash on Friday. Federico Chiesa stole the spotlight with a brace, setting the stage for an eagerly anticipated showdown with Ukraine on Monday to secure their coveted spot in the finals.

The Group C triumph positions Italy strategically, requiring only a draw against Ukraine to clinch second place in the group alongside the already-qualified England, propelling them into next year's finals in Germany. Italy's history with North Macedonia has been marked by challenges, including a painful 1-0 loss at home in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers and a 1-1 draw in Luciano Spalletti's debut as Azzurri coach in September.

Despite facing initial threats of counter-attacks, Italy demonstrated their prowess as Matteo Darmian broke the deadlock with a headed goal from a corner after 17 minutes. A missed penalty by Jorginho after Nikola Serafimov's handball was quickly overshadowed by Chiesa's brilliance, doubling the lead with a curling shot just before the break.

Chiesa continued to shine in first-half stoppage time, securing Italy's third goal with a deflected shot. North Macedonia showed resilience, pulling back into the match with Jani Atanasov's close-range header in the 52nd minute and a deflected long-range shot in the 74th.

Manager Luciano Spalletti praised his team's character and quality, emphasizing their strength to persevere and secure the victory with two additional goals. Giacomo Raspadori and Stephan El Shaarawy delivered the final blows, dashing the visitors' hopes and sealing Italy's triumph.

As Italy prepares for the decisive clash with Ukraine in Leverkusen, Germany, Spalletti faces the tactical dilemma of potential changes, keeping fans and football enthusiasts on the edge of their seats in anticipation of a thrilling encounter.

Looking ahead to the upcoming match against Ukraine, Manager Luciano Spalletti shared insights into his tactical considerations, stating, "As for the next match, we have to see how everyone is doing, but I do not predict that many changes." The anticipation builds as fans eagerly await the team's strategic approach for the crucial encounter. This glimpse into Spalletti's mindset adds an element of intrigue to the unfolding narrative of Italy's Euro 2024 qualification journey.

(Reporting by Tommy Lund in Gdansk; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Ken Ferris)

[Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.]

In the lead-up to the pivotal clash against Ukraine, Manager Luciano Spalletti's measured approach and reluctance to predict significant changes underscore the stability and confidence within the Italian camp. As the team prepares for the decisive showdown, the strategic continuity hinted at by Spalletti adds an element of assurance to the Azzurri's quest for Euro 2024 qualification. With anticipation building and fans eagerly awaiting the tactical nuances that will unfold, Italy's footballing journey maintains its captivating trajectory, leaving enthusiasts on the edge of their seats. The stage is set for a compelling encounter, and the team, under Spalletti's guidance, aims to navigate the challenges and secure their coveted spot in the finals.

(Reporting by Tommy Lund in Gdansk; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Ken Ferris)

[Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.]