Italy vs Ukraine 2-1: Frattesi Gives Spalletti Crucial First Win in Charge

Luciano Spalletti oversaw his first win as the new Italy manager with a potentially crucial 2-1 home victory over Ukraine on Tuesday night. Gli Azzurri eked out a dramatic triumph at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza to significantly increase the likelihood of Euro 2024 qualification. 

Despite losing Gianluca Mancini and Matteo Politano to injuries during a gut-wrenching 1-1 draw against North Macedonia last weekend, Italy showcased their character in a qualifying Group C second-place six-pointer. New Inter signing Davide Frattesi emerged as an unlikely nation’s hero. 

Though he has yet to start for Simone Inzaghi’s men this season, the 23-year-old midfielder showed no signs of lacking match fitness. Au contraire, the ex-Sassuolo starlet was laser-sharp at his new stadium, inspiring Italy to an all-important win with a quick-fire double. 

Frattesi marked his first start for club or country since opening his international account against the Netherlands in June with a crucial 12th-minute opener. Lazio winger Mattia Zaccagni took advantage of Georgiy Sudakov’s slip to lay the ball off to the Inter midfielder, who smashed it past Georgi Bushchan.

Seventeen minutes later, Frattesi doubled his count to put clear daylight between the sides. He reacted quickly to Nicolo Zaniolo’s deflected shot to poke the ball home and send Meazza into ecstasy. However, his second goal of the night triggered Ukraine’s awakening, with the visitors starting to show signs of life following a sluggish opening. 

When it looked like Italy would go into halftime with a two-goal cushion, Andriy Yarmolenko pulled one back for Ukraine. The country’s second-all-time top goalscorer capitalized on Federico Dimarco’s poor clearance to put the ball past Gianluigi Donnarumma, who made a massive save to deny Artem Dovbyk in the build-up.

Italy did well to respond to conceding late in the first half. Spalletti’s men came flying out of the traps at the beginning of the second half, with Zaccagni’s effort flying harmlessly wide moments after the break. Napoli forward Giacomo Raspadori had a glorious chance to restore a two-goal lead, but Bushchan thwarted his low attempt.

Highly-rated Atalanta defender Giorgio Scalvini saw his towering header finish on the roof of the net. However, Italy assumed complete control of the proceedings, giving nothing away to Ukraine for the remainder of the game to return to winning ways. 

After surviving a late scare produced by Yukhym Konoplya’s header, Italy felt a huge sigh of relief as they snapped a two-game winless run to leapfrog Ukraine to second in Group C. Despite sitting level on points with Serhiy Rebrov’s side, Spalletti’s men boast a game in hand. 

Italy are now in firm control of their qualification fate. 

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