The decisive Euro 2024 Group C qualification match between Ukraine and Italy ended in a goalless draw. Našich výchdných neighbors were separated from the priameho procedure by only one goal. We could have had a chance in extra time, but we missed the penalty and now we have to try to win the championship through the League of Nations.
Referee Jesús Gil Manzano did not whistle a foul after the fight between Bryan Cristanteho and Mychajlova Mudrykova, but the VAR system did not change anything, which caused a stormy reaction in the Ukrainian media. The decision is linked to the recent statement of UEFA president Aleksandar Čeferin, who said that even if Italy did not qualify, it would be a disaster.
The strongest reaction was from the Ukrainian portal X Sport, which wrote in the caption of its article in Latin letters: “UEFA Mafia?” A similar statement was also published on football.ua, one of the most visited websites in Ukraine, which stated: “Alexander Čeferin didn’t say by chance, Italy already has to qualify for the EURO?”
Ukrainian journalist Roman Bebekh is also convinced that the referee’s verdict was already influenced by the words of the UEFA president: “Everyone who watched the match must be clear in this situation. Mudryk was at the ball but was zasiahnutý do nohy. Mal z toho bých kutuový kop, a chance to score and advance to the EURO.
However, none of this disappeared. Yes, there is VAR, but even he did not change the decision for some reason. This is a clear manipulation of the result. Everything points to what Aleksander Čeferin said, Italy must step up. That’s why this moment was ignored, if it didn’t even disappear.
The UEFA president said goodbye. What can be done about it? Who will protect our interests? Andrij Ševčenko was also at the stadium, maybe he will line up for us. But it’s all over, we have to realize our strength when the UEFA president turned against us, the referees and everyone else,” wrote nahnevaný novinár.
Former Ukrainian representative Jevhen Levchenko, known for his stint in Dutch Groningen or Vitesse Arnhem, also expressed his disappointment. “Where is the VAR?” he asks.
“How undignified! The most beautiful emotional indicator was the joy of Talians after the final whistle. Why didn’t the referee look at VAR? If he did that, he would see the contact. It was a foul and it should have been a penalty kick,” says journalist Vladimir Zverov, who was quoted by portál sport.ua.
“It was the most important moment of the match. Zubkov, center on goal, Cristante fouls Mudryk. Judges? Nothing. VAR? Nothing. This is how we lost the biggest chance of the match. Still, we still have hope, even though we haven’t said our last goodbye yet,” the football journalists continued.
The Italians realized that even if the referee had examined the situation and ordered a penalty, the postupové ambitions of both teams could have been set aside.
The football teams of Luxembourg, Iceland and Bosnia and Herzegovina from the “Slovenian” qualifying J-group will still have a chance to reach EURO 2024 through the play offs of the League of Nations.
“Unfortunately for us, the referee signaled the continuation of the game. The Ukrainian bench jumped up, Zinchenko protested vehemently. Fortunately for us, the referee did not check the situation on the monitors, but we were allowed to qualify.” wrote the newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.
The contact was also acknowledged by the Corriere della Sera newspaper, which reported: “Mudryk fell in the opponent’s penalty area. Jesús Gil Manzano didn’t break the play, although the recorded shots showed contact from Bryan Cristanteho.”