Euro round-up: Italy boost hopes of reaching Euro 2024 | Albania qualify

Italy boosted their chances of making Euro 2024 with a 5-2 win over North Macedonia.

Matteo Darmian opened the scoring for the Italians before Federico Chiesa gave them a healthy advantage thanks to his double before the interval.

But, Italy were made to sweat in the second half when Jani Atanasov scored twice to reduce the deficit to just one but Giacomo Raspadori’s strike nine minutes from time and Stephan El Shaarawy’s late fifth wrapped up the win.

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Despite an unconvincing 2-0 win over Malta, Bukayo Saka is pleased that England moved ever closer to securing one of the top seeds at Euro 2024.

Elsewhere in Group C, England continued their unbeaten run in European Championship qualification with a 2-0 win over Malta.

The Three Lions opened the scoring in the eighth minute when Enrico Pepe put through his own goal.

Many supporters inside Wembley Stadium would have imagined a few more goals but they were made to wait till the 75th minute before they saw another when Harry Kane netted from close range to seal victory.

Harry Kane is congratulated by England team-mates after scoring the second against Malta
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Harry Kane is congratulated by England team-mates after scoring the second against Malta

In Group E, Albania qualified despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Moldova.

Albania hit the front in the 25th minute when Sokol Cikalleshi slotted home a penalty and their celebrations were put on ice when Vladislav Baboglo equalised for the home side, but the scores stayed level to send Albania through.

Czech Republic held onto the second qualifying spot as they claimed a 1-1 draw with Poland in Warsaw.

Poland looked like they would leapfrog their opponents into second when Jakub Piotrowski gave them a 1-0 lead but West Ham’s Tomas Soucek proved to be the hero – four minutes after the break – when he fired the ball home from close range to edge them further to qualification and ended Poland’s hopes.

In Group H, Denmark qualified for the group stages following a 2-1 victory over Slovenia.

Joakim Maehle put Denmark in front but Erik Janza’s strike four minutes later sent the teams level into the break.

The all-important winner was scored by Thomas Delaney, who poked home from close range to send the Danes through.

Finland's Teemu Pukki, second from right, celebrates with teammates after scoring their side's third goal of the game during the Euro 2024 group H qualifying soccer match between Finland and Northern Ireland at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki, Finland, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. (Roni Rekomaa/Lehtikuva via AP)
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Finland’s Teemu Pukki, second from right, celebrates with teammates after scoring against Northern Ireland

Meanwhile, Kazakhstan kept their hopes of qualifying alive thanks to a 3-1 home victory over San Marino.

The hosts were expected to gain all three points and were on their way when Islam Chesnokov claimed a brace, scoring either side of the break.

For just the second time in the qualifying phase, San Marino got on the scoresheet when Simone Franciosi nodded home from close range but Kazakhstan restored their two-goal advantage thanks to Abat Aimbetov’s late penalty.

Northern Ireland were thrashed 4-0 at the hands of Finland and slumped to their seventh defeat in qualifying.