Federico Chiesa scored twice as Italy secured a 5-2 home victory against North Macedonia in their Euro 2024 qualifying clash on Friday, giving them an edge ahead of a deciding encounter with Ukraine on Monday for a place at the finals.
The Group C victory means Italy only need a draw against Ukraine to secure second place in the group along with already-qualified England and reach next year’s finals in Germany.
Italy have encountered difficulties in their history with North Macedonia, suffering a 1-0 loss at home in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers and later playing a 1-1 Euro qualifying draw in manager Luciano Spalletti's debut as Azzurri coach in September.
Giacomo Raspadori had a goal disallowed for offside, followed by Chiesa's attempt from a tight angle that was saved by North Macedonia's Stole Dimitrievski.
Italy broke the deadlock after 17 minutes when an unmarked Matteo Darmian headed in a corner at the back post.
After 40 minutes, Italy had a chance to extend their advantage from the penalty spot after Nikola Serafimov's handball but Jorginho's attempt was saved by Dimitrievski.
Chiesa did double the lead four minutes before the break though with a curling shot from the edge of the box.
North Macedonia got back into the match after 52 minutes when Jani Atanasov nodded in a close-range cross before scoring his second with a deflected long-range shot in the 74th.