PARIS: Reigning champions Italy won easily 4-0 over Malta in the Euro 2024 qualifying action early this morning, while Denmark strengthened their position to qualify in addition to narrowing Kazakhstan’s chances.
Giacomo Bonaventura scored his first goal for Italy in the 22nd minute and Domenico Berardi produced a stunning goal to double Bari’s lead in first-half stoppage time.
Berardi scored again in the 63rd minute before Davide Frattesi completed a comfortable night for Luciano Spalletti’s men who remain second in Group C ahead of the meeting with England early this Wednesday morning.
“The match will really show the potential we have,” Spalletti told broadcaster RAI.
Italy, who have played a game less, are three points behind England ahead of their meeting at Wembley.
“It was definitely an emotional game, I have wonderful memories in that stadium,” said Berardi, who featured in Italy’s penalty shoot-out win over England in the Euro 2020 final.
“We’re going to go there trying to do what we did today, play our way and go for the win.”
Ukraine are tied with Italy after a 2-0 win over North Macedonia in Prague.
Georgiy Sudakov put Ukraine ahead after 30 minutes and substitute Oleksandr Karavaiev sealed victory in stoppage time, ahead of next week’s clash with Malta.
Denmark avenged their shock defeat at the hands of Kazakhstan last March when Robert Skov scored twice in a 3-1 win in Copenhagen.
Jonas Wind started Denmark’s dominance, which qualified for the semi-finals of Euro 2020, with the opener before Skov completed two quick goals in each half.
Kazakhstan hit back with a goal through Yan Vorogovskiy but they are four points behind their Group H challengers.
“First of all, we are of course happy with the victory in the European qualifiers at home. It is not an easy path in this group,” Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand told broadcaster TV2.
“It was a very important home game and we were forced to work hard to win. The pressure was on and we got the win we needed.”
Benjamin Sesko’s brace helped Slovenia win 3-0 over Finland in Ljubljana.
Sesko’s first goal came from the penalty spot and the RB Leipzig forward added another with a clinical finish, taking his tally to eight goals in his last 11 international appearances.
Defender Erik Janza grabbed a late third for Slovenia, who lead Denmark at the top on goal difference. The two countries will meet in Copenhagen next November 17.
Slovenia travel to Northern Ireland next week and Denmark are almost certain to beat San Marino – who have lost all 82 games except one in Euro qualifying.
Northern Ireland beat San Marino 3-0 for their second win in seven games.
Hungary dominated Group G after a 2-1 home win over Serbia.