European champions Italy are set to miss the World Cup later this year after a monumental defeat by North Macedonia in the play-off semifinals.
After a tenacious defense had beaten Italy back for much of the competition in Palermo, the visitors benefited from Aleksandar Trajkovski’s added-time goal to secure a 1-0 win.
Trajkovski grabbed a ball and swept the ball away from underfoot before unleashing a stunning low shot from 25 yards out that beat Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma’s desperate leap.
The goal sparked cheers as players and coaches rushed onto the pitch at the North Macedonia bench, while several Italian players stayed behind, heads in hands.
Nine months after triumphing at Euro 2020, the Azzurri are grappling with a shock defeat that means they will miss a second consecutive World Cup after missing out on the 2018 edition in Russia.
North Macedonia, 61 places behind Italy at world number 67, can look forward to a play-off final against Portugal, who defeated Turkey 3-1, after one of the biggest wins in their history.
Gareth Bale’s brace helped Wales defeat Austria 2-1, while Sweden beat the Czech Republic 1-0 thanks to Robin Quaison’s extra-time winner.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/world-cup-2018/fixtures-and-results/italy-suffer-fresh-world-cup-misery-after-shock-play-off-loss-to-north-macedonia-41485036.html Italy suffers a new World Cup misery after the shock play-off defeat against North Macedonia