Sunday, June 16, 2024

Italy overpower North Macedonia in Euro 2024 qualifier

Italy broke the curse with a 5-2 victory over North Macedonia in the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers here on Friday, with Federico Chiesa scoring a brace.

North Macedonia had left the Azzurri unfavorable memories, eliminating Italy in a Qatar World Cup qualifying play-off last year and holding Luciano Spalletti’s side to 1-1 draw in their first meeting of the Euro 2024 qualifiers, reports Xinhua.

Chiesa returned to action on Friday, with Jorginho also getting the nod in the middle of the park while Napoli star Eljif Elmas started for the away side.

The game started in Italy’s favor as Giacomo Raspadori found the net in the 13th minute but it was wiped out due to offside.

The home side broke the deadlock minutes later through a corner as Raspadori’s pass found Matteo Darmian to turn in a header.

Italy continued their dominance and Jorginho should have doubled the lead in the 40th minute but saw his weak spot-kick parried away.

But Chiesa made it 2-0 one minute later as Nicolo Barella’s smart back-heeled pass allowed the Juventus player to unleash a daisy-cutter out of the box, before he completed a brace with a deflected strike in stoppage time.

Italy were a little complacent and error-prone in the second half, as North Macedonia pulled two goals back by Jani Atanasov.

Raspadori eased the pressure in the 81st minute when Barella assisted him to finish with a low strike, before Federico Dimarco pulled back for substitute Stephan El Shaarawy to seal the win in the dying minutes.

The win sent Italy to the second place in Group C, leveling on 13 points with Ukraine. The two sides will have a head-to-head clash on November 20 in the last round, and Italy only need one point to secure their place in the finals.

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