ALERMO, Sicily — European champion Italy will miss the World Cup. Again.
The unthinkable occurred in Palermo on Thursday because the Azzurri have been crushed 1-0 by North Macedonia following a last-gasp objective by Aleksandar Trajkovski of their playoff semifinal.
Italy had 32 pictures on objective, in contrast to simply 4 for its opponent. But it was Trajkovski’s effort from outdoors the realm as defenders closed in round him that made the distinction.
It was North Macedonia’s solely actual alternative after a very dominant efficiency by Italy, which missed various possibilities and had a number of others saved by visiting goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski.
But, identical to 5 years in the past, on the ultimate whistle the Italy gamers fell to the bottom in disbelief and disappointment — with a number of of them in tears — because the opposition celebrated wildly.
Italy additionally failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after dropping to Sweden in a two-legged playoff the earlier November. Missing two straight World Cups is an unprecedented low level for the four-time champion, particularly simply months after successful Euro 2020.
“I’m proud of my teammates, we are all destroyed and broken but we have to start again,” Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini stated. “At the second it’s troublesome to discuss it, it can stay an awesome gap.
“I hope that the coach will stay because he is essential for this team. Now we have to return to winning, go to the Euros and in four years time return to this blessed World Cup.”
But Roberto Mancini, who took over as Italy coach after the final qualifying failure, stated on Thursday that the frustration “was too great to talk about the future.”
“I feel that just as last July was the best thing I experienced at a professional level, this is the greatest disappointment,” Mancini added.
“Soccer is like that, sometimes incredible things happen.”
North Macedonia will play Portugal on Tuesday for a spot within the match in Qatar after Cristiano Ronaldo’s aspect beat Turkey 3-1. Euro 2020 is the one main match North Macedonia has certified for.
Mancini was lacking various gamers that helped Italy win the European Championship final summer time and had to subject a makeshift defence, however it was barely troubled by North Macedonia till the very finish.
Italy received off to an aggressive begin however struggled to discover a well past the wall of crimson shirts.
The Azzurri have been gifted an awesome likelihood within the thirtieth minute after a horrendous kick from the North Macedonia goalkeeper left Domenico Berardi with an open objective however he scuffed his shot and Dimitrievski received again in time to make the save.
Dimitrievski did higher moments later when he fingertipped Ciro Immobile’s angled shot over the bar.
Italy was getting nearer and Dimitrievski had to make one other save, this time to palm Lorenzo Insigne’s effort across the publish.
North Macedonia had its first try on objective on the stroke of halftime when Enis Bardi threaded a ball by for Trajkovski however his effort was straight at Giangluigi Donnarumma.
Berardi virtually atoned for his first-half error early within the second interval however noticed one try effectively saved by Dimitrievski and curled one other simply previous the left publish.
Italy was laying siege to the objective however noticed the whole lot charged down by North Macedonia.
And it was made to pay for its profligacy in stoppage time as Trajkovski fired a low shot into the underside left nook from 25 yards, leaving Mancini wanting shocked on the sideline.