In a dramatic conclusion to the Group C qualifying match for the European Championship 2024, Ukraine and Italy played to a goalless draw in Leverkusen.
While Italy secured their spot in the tournament with this draw, Ukraine, needing a win, now faces additional qualifiers. The match's climax saw a controversial moment in the 93rd minute when Ukrainian player Mykhailo Mudryk fell in the Italian penalty area after a challenge from Italy's Bryan Cristante. Ukrainian players and fans erupted in appeals for a penalty, which, if awarded and converted, would have secured their direct qualification to the EURO.
Ukraine's coach, Serhij Rebrov, a legendary player turned manager, expressed his frustration over the refereeing decision. He firmly believed that the incident involving Mudryk was a clear penalty. Rebrov criticized the lack of intervention from the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), stating, "It was undoubtedly a clear penalty. But what good is it when VAR seems to be absent when it should at least notify the referee to check, especially when an evident foul for a penalty is missed."
UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin:
“Italy must qualify for Euro 2024, otherwise it will be a disaster, the Italian national team is too important. I think they will beat Ukraine.”
Yesterday, at 0-0, Ukraine got denied a penalty in the 93rd minute against Italy. pic.twitter.com/91KrDHePnP
This decision has significant implications for Ukraine's journey to the EURO 2024, as they now have to navigate through additional qualifying rounds. The incident has sparked a debate over the effectiveness and consistency of VAR in crucial matches, highlighting the ongoing challenges in football refereeing.