Italy Beats Malta - Ronaldo Scores Brace for Portugal
Attard - Defending champions Italy avoided a complete misstep in the qualification campaign for the 2024 UEFA European Championship in Germany.
Three days after their 1-2 home defeat in a rematch of the 2021 European Championship final against England, Roberto Mancini's team secured a lackluster 2-0 (2-0) victory over underdogs Malta in Attard. With three points, Italy sits in second place in Group C behind England, who previously defeated Ukraine 2-0 (2-0) in London.
Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo propelled Portugal to the top of Group J with a brace. In his 198th appearance for the 2016 European champions, the 38-year-old all-time leading international goal scorer found the net in the 9th minute and the 31st minute, contributing to a 6-0 (4-0) victory over Luxembourg in Luxemburg. Joao Felix (15th minute), Bernardo Silva (18th minute), Otavio (77th minute), and Rafael Leao (88th minute) also got on the scoresheet. Following their 4-0 win against Liechtenstein in the opening match, Portugal leads the Group J standings.
Denmark experienced an unpleasant surprise earlier as the former European champions squandered a 2-0 lead against Kazakhstan within 16 minutes, losing 2-3 (2-0) in Nur-Sultan. Rasmus Höjlund (21st and 36th minutes) had put the favorites in front with a brace. However, Bachtijar Sajnutdinow (73rd minute) converted a penalty, while Aschat Taguibergen (86th minute) and Abat Aimbetow (89th minute) turned the game around in a turbulent final phase, favoring the hosts. The winning goal scorer received a yellow-red card in stoppage time.