Macedonia managed to disrupt Italy’s plans once again. After the spectacular win in Palermo that denied Italy a place at the last European Championship, the Macedonian national team held Italy to a draw in the European Championship qualifier in Skopje.

Ciro Immobile nodded the Azzurri ahead in new boss Luciano Spalletti’s first game in charge. But Enis Bardhi’s 20-yard free-kick earned a point for the hosts, who upset Italy in the World Cup 2022 play-offs.

The draw means reigning European champions Italy face an uphill task to reach next year’s finals in Germany. The Euro 2020 winners sit third in Group C, level on four points with Macedonia and three behind Ukraine, who the Azzurri host in a now hugely important qualifier at the San Siro on Tuesday.

Italy do have a game in hand on Ukraine but must still play away to both Serhiy Rebrov’s team and group leaders England – whom they beat in the last European final – in two of their last three qualifying matches.