Sandro Tonali was a starter in Skopje, as Italy faced a key match in their quest to be at the 2024 Euros in Germany next summer.

Saturday night saw Italy dominate away against North Macedonia, in what was Luciano Spalletti’s first game in charge after Roberto Mancini quit to take charge of Saudi Arabia.

The reaction from the Italian media was overwhelmingly favourable when it came to playing style, as Sandro Tonali and his teammates controlled most of the game and created some very good chances. The visitors having 73% possession and completing 634 passes compare to only 244 for the home side.
However, despite being so on top in the first half, Italy unable to get the ball in the net. The visitors and Sandro Tonali so unlucky as a perfectly timed run saw the Newcastle midfielder get in behind towards the left side and he did everything right, taking the ball on and then what looked a perfect low left foot finish that the keeper didn’t get near, only to see it come back off the left post.

Straight after the break though, Immobile headed Italy deservedly into the lead and it looked as though on the way to a much needed win.

Only to be hit by a cruel late blow, as an excellent Enis Bardhi free kick on 81 minutes was bent over the wall and into the back of the net, to rob Italy and Sandro Tonali of two points.

The NUFC star was subbed late on in a tactical substitution as another striker was thrown on, as Italy pressed to take the lead again. It had been noticeable during the match that Sandro Tonali was playing a lot further forward than in recent Newcastle matches and regularly getting into the opposition box.

Tonali admits to Italy's shortcomings against Macedonia

Sandro Tonali speaking after the match to Italian media:

“It is not what we hoped for, not the result we wanted to take back home.

“Disappointment is natural.

“Just as it is right that North Macedonia celebrate their result.

“This is football, every game is difficult at international level.

“Now we need to get back on track because in a few days there is another important match.

“We need to get back to being Italy.

“We controlled the game well and had numerous chances.

“However, we were unable to deal with their reaction in the final 15 minutes.

“It is a pity, as we allowed them very few opportunities, but it was enough to pay for it with a draw.”

With Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier unused subs as England struggled to a 1-1 draw away (played in Poland) against Ukraine.

This is how Group C now looks on Sunday morning;
The top two in each of the ten groups qualify automatically for the 2024 finals in Germany, plus the hosts and then three from the play-offs.

A massive match for Sandro Tonali and his international teammates on Tuesday.


Ahead of his club football return a week later with Newcastle in the Champions League, the San Siro in two days time hosts Italy v Ukraine.


A win would put Italy second in the group ahead of Ukraine and with a game in hand. However, defeat would be a disaster, leaving them six points adrift of automatic qualification with four group matches left to play.


Newcastle United players heading around the globe to play for their countries in September 2023:


Wednesday 6 September


England Under 19s 0 Germany Under 19s 1


A first ever appearance for the England Under 19s, as sub Lewis Miley helped the young lions control the later stages, but despite their dominance and very good chances created, couldn’t find an equaliser in this friendly played on the Costa Brava.


Thursday 7 September


Paraguay 0 Peru 0


Incredibly frustrating for Miguel Almiron, as Paraguay drew their first World Cup qualifier. Absolutely battering Peru who didn’t have a single effort on target and the visitors having to play the entire second half a man down, after Advincula picked up a red card just before the break.


Paraguay hitting the woodwork four times, the visiting keeper playing the game of his career and the Peru goal leading a charmed life.


Friday 8 September


Cyprus 0 Scotland 3 (***Elliot Anderson has now withdrawn from the Scotland squad after picking up an unspecified injury) Euros Qualifier


Slovakia 0 Portugal 1


Martin Dubravka fortunate to escape serious injury after a beyond reckless challenge from Cristiano Ronaldo saw the striker’s studs end up in the face of the Newcastle keeper.


Thankfully Dubravka able to continue after lengthy treatment, Ronaldo somehow ending up with only a yellow card. Fernandes with the Portugal goal which leaves Slovakia second in Group J after five of the ten Euro qualifying group matches. Slovakia on 10 points and ahead of Luxembourg on goal difference, whilst five points behind group leaders Portugal.


Brazil 5 Bolivia 1


Bruno Guimaraes makes first ever start in an international in his home country, puts in excellent performance in this World Cup Qualifier. That included a top quality assist for Rodrygo to score the third. Bruno Guimaraes subbed on 71 minutes with the score 4-0, Joelinton replacing his Newcastle United teammate as he made his third appearance for Brazil.


Saturday 9 September


Estonia 0 Sweden 5


Alexander Isak back to form and a very good performance as he capped his display with a dominant power header, scoring the third in this vital Euros qualifier win.


England Under 19s 4 Switzerland Under 19s 2


A special day for 17 year old Lewis Miley, as he made his first start for the England Under 19s in this friendly. Played on the Costa Brava, the NUFC teenager unlucky not to register and assist due to a dubious offside decision.


Ukraine 1 England 1


England struggling to a point with Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier unused subs.


Played in Poland, Zinchenko gave Ukraine a 26th minute lead in this Euros qualifier, before Kyle Walker equalised just before the break.


North Macedonia 1 Italy 1


Sandro Tonali put in a vey decent performance, so unlucky not to give Italy the lead when a great run ended with his left foot shot coming back off the post. Immobile did give Italy the lead just after half-time but a late free-kick equaliser was a huge blow to the visitors who had dominated most of the match.


Kosovo v Switzerland (Fabian Schar) Euros Qualifier


Monday 11 September


Slovakia v Liechtenstein (Martin Dubravka) Euros Qualifier


Tuesday 12 September


Scotland v England (Elliot Anderson, Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier) Friendly (***Elliot Anderson has now withdrawn from the Scotland squad after picking up an unspecified injury)


Venezuela v Paraguay (Miguel Almiron) World Cup qualifier


Sweden v Austria (Alexander Isak) Euros Qualifier


Switzerland v Andorra (Fabian Schar) Euros Qualifier


Italy v Ukraine (Sandro Tonali) Euros Qualifier


Peru v Brazil (Joelinton and Bruno) World Cup Qualifier


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