Italy fail to qualify for World Cup for first time in 60 years

Mon, Nov 13 2017

Buffon graced the finals of a record five World Cups but bows out without making it six. Credit: Al Robinson

Italy have missed out on World Cup qualification for the first time in 60 years after they were held to a goalless draw by Sweden at the San Siro on Monday night.

 

It's just the second time the Azzurri have failed to qualify for the tournament – the only other time being in Sweden in 1958 – and their third absence after boycotting the first in Uruguay in 1930.

 

Italy's elimination brings a sad end to the 20-year international career of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, the Juventus stopper having decided to retire at the end of the season.

 

Having won the first leg in Stockholm 1-0 on Friday night, the Swedes merely needed to keep a clean sheet to ensure they become the 29th country to seal passage to the finals in Russia next year.

 

That they duly did, despite losing the hero of the first leg, goalscorer Jakob Johansson, to a serious-looking knee injury midway through the first half.

 

The Italians did have chances to equalise, but Swedish goalkeeper Robin Olsen stood strong to deny Antonio Candreva and Ciro Immobile from close range.

 

When they needed a slice of luck, it arrived as Marco Parolo's header rebounded off the crossbar, while both teams had seemingly legitimate penalty shouts turned down by referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz.

 

 

The 14th and final UEFA entrant to the World Cup will be confirmed tomorrow when the Republic of Ireland face Denmark in Dublin with the scores poised at 0-0.

 

The final two places will be determined by the winners of the intercontinental play-offs between Peru and New Zealand and Australia and Honduras, both of which are scoreless at the halfway stage.