Italy stunned as Sweden beat Azzurri on aggregate to reach World Cup


Italy stunned as Sweden beat Azzurri on aggregate to reach World Cup

Four-time world champions Italy will miss Russian Federation 2018 after Gian Piero Ventura's team failed to score in two legs against Sweden, enabling the Scandinavians to qualify for next summer's tournament with a 1-0 aggregate playoff victory.

It was enough for Sweden, who will play at the finals for the first time since 2006 - the same year in which Italy were last crowned champions of the world.

It would be easy to lay the blame squarely on Gian Piero Ventura.

Despite 64 per cent possession and ten shots on goal in the first leg, Italy failed to score away from home and things didn't improve when they returned to the San Siro.

Sweden had fallen at the same stage four years ago, beaten by Cristiano Ronaldo and...

But despite laying siege to the Scandinavian defence over 90 feverish minutes, Italy could not make the breakthrough and the goalless draw was enough for Sweden to reach Russian Federation 2018.

Consequently, unless Italy turn things around, tonight will be the last game he plays for his national side, bringing an end to a glittering career at worldwide level that included a World Cup triumph in 2006. They pressed, they pushed, but they could not prevail, and as a result will miss out on next year's tournament in Russian Federation, their first such failure in six decades.

"We need to be as clear headed as possible to go to the World Cup", said captain Buffon, who conceded a goal by Swedish substitute Jakob Johansson that was deflected by Daniele de Rossi.

This is the first time since 1958 that Italy has failed to qualify.

"We are not stressed, personally I am focused on the game and I hope fans will support us. There's regret at finishing like that, not because time passes", Buffon said after the result.

The 0-0 draw saw the continuation of an unusual quirk in World Cup qualifying.

The winners of the Italy-Sweden tie will join Switzerland and Croatia as qualifying for Russian Federation 2018 via the European play-offs.

The first 45 minutes of the second leg of the World Cup play off between italy and sweden has just ended with no goal from the either side.

The final play-off game will see Republic of Ireland host Denmark on Tuesday.



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