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Italy qualify for Euro 2024!

By Razeen Gutta

A goalless draw in Leverkusen was enough for Italy to seal European Championship qualification while England were held by North Macedonia in their final international game of 2023.

Despite results going the way of the Group C favourites, VAR came into question on more than one occasion on Monday night football.

Manchester City defender Rico Lewis was handed his first England cap in the Three Lions’ trip to North Macedonia.

And while England survived defeat, the 18-year-old did see his debut marred by a controversial VAR penalty call which led to the hosts going in front.

Luckily for Lewis, Harry Kane rescued Gareth Southgate’s side from what would have been their first defeat of the qualifying campaign.

The England skipper leveled matters just before the hour mark — netting from his first touch of the football, just 40 seconds after coming on.

Jack Grealish may have scored as well, but for a lengthy VAR stoppage that saw his strike ruled out for offside.

It finished 1-1 at the Tose Proeski Arena, with England topping the group with six wins and two draws in their eight games.

In the other game, the defending champions knew a point against Ukraine would be enough to earn them a spot in next year’s finals. And a point is what they got.

Gianluigi Donnarumma made some big saves to keep Italy in it. But Ukraine will blame VAR for their inability to qualify on the night as Mykhailo Mudryk was unlucky to see his penalty appeals turned away in the dying moments..

Despite Italy making it through, Ukraine may still have a chance to make it via the Nations League playoffs.

The final few games of qualifying action takes place on Tuesday with France, Netherlands and Croatia all in action.

Pictured above: Italy

Image source: @football__tweet