Italy qualified for the European Championship in Germany, where they will defend their title, but it did not happen without controversy. In the 93rd minute of the goalless draw against Ukraine in Leverkusen last night, a rather controversial situation played out in the Azzurri penalty area, which many felt deserved to end in a penalty in favor of the Ukrainians.
Oleksandr Zubkov passed to Mykhailo Mudrik, who played the ball, then a late tackle by Brian Cristante sent him to the ground. Scant replays showed that there was more contact between the two, but we never got to see the situation again on the telecast, and referee Hill Manzano didn’t call the spot.
He did not receive a signal from VAR, also led by Spaniards in this match – Martinez Munuera and Del Cerro Grande, so the match continued and a few minutes later Italy officially qualified for Euro 2024.
The Ukraine camp commented on the situation, and here is what the selector Serhii Rebrov said:
“VAR decides about this, not us. The referee on the field did not receive a signal to clarify what happened. For me it was a penalty, but still there is VAR who decided that there was no point in bothering the head referee.” he stated.
If it had come to a kick from the penalty spot and it was accurate, then the victory would have sent the Ukrainians directly ahead at the expense of the European champions.
In Italy, they paid more attention to the presentation of their own than to the controversial situation.
The leading edition “Gadzeta delo sport” came out with the headline – “Spalletti is a champion, and we are becoming a real team”.
A pretty strong claim indeed, especially given that the current continental champions had to wait until the final round to legitimize their ranking.
The group was won by England with 20 points, and the Italians are second with 14, the same as Ukraine. The two teams have equal indicators as matches, but the goal difference of the “squad” is better, and also the direct meeting between them earlier in the qualifiers in Milan was won by the Italians with 2:1.