18th November 2023 – (Rome) Italy put an end to a troubling track record against North Macedonia, securing a 5-2 triumph in the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers on Friday. The star of the show was Federico Chiesa, who netted two goals, helping Italy break the cycle of unfavourable results.
The Azzurri had previously struggled against North Macedonia, suffering an elimination from the Qatar World Cup qualifying playoff last year and managing only a 1-1 draw in the first meeting of the Euro 2024 qualifiers with Luciano Spalletti’s squad.
Returning to the field on Friday, Chiesa and Jorginho were given starting roles, while Eljif Elmas from Napoli represented the opposition.
The match initially swung in Italy’s favour when Giacomo Raspadori scored in the 13th minute, but the goal was disallowed due to an offside call. However, Italy soon took the lead with a corner-turned-goal, as Raspadori’s pass found Matteo Darmian who skilfully headed it into the net.
Italy maintained their command over the game, with Jorginho missing a chance to double the lead in the 40th minute when his weak penalty shot was blocked. However, Chiesa stepped in a minute later to make it 2-0, thanks to a clever back-heeled pass from Nicolo Barella. Chiesa then claimed his second goal with a deflected strike as the first half came to a close.
Despite leading comfortably, Italy appeared slightly complacent in the second half, allowing North Macedonia to net two goals courtesy of Jani Atanasov. However, Raspadori eased pressures in the 81st minute with a goal assisted by Barella. The victory was sealed in the final moments when Federico Dimarco set up substitute Stephan El Shaarawy for the final goal.
This win propelled Italy to second place in Group C, tying them on 13 points with Ukraine. The two teams will face each other on November 20 in the final round, where Italy only needs to secure a single point to guarantee their spot in the final stage of the tournament.