Italy’s surprise 1-0 home defeat by North Macedonia means the European champions will not feature at this year’s FIFA World Cup. In a dramatic finale in the play-off semifinals, Aleksandar Trajkovski scored a last-minute winner for North Macedonia, who will now play Portugal for a place in Qatar.
Victory over England in last summer’s Euro 2020 final is “now a bittersweet memory” for the Italy national team, he said The guard. As in the 2018 playoffs, the Azzurri failed to qualify for a second consecutive World Cup.
It was “truly a sporting disaster” for Italy, he said BBC. “By the 2026 finals, the Azzurri and their fans, if they can make it, will go 12 years without World Cup football.”
Veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini said the Italy side were “devastated and crushed” after Thursday night’s defeat in Palermo. “The disappointment is great. From September to today we have made mistakes and paid for them.”
“It was a nightmare,” Italy midfielder Marco Verratti told RAI Sport. “If we look around the dressing room, we had to challenge the players for the tournament itself, but here we are talking about a disaster. It’s so hard to go from hero to zero.”
Italian newspapers were “dismayed” after the defeat Daily Mail reported. Tuttosport led with a simple headline of ‘Noooo!’ while the front page of Corriere dello Sport had a headline that read ‘To Hell’.
Italy’s best-selling sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport called the earthquake-like result “out of this world”, Sky Sports reported. Head coach Roberto Mancini is “devastated” and reflecting on his future.
Portugal must “respect” North Macedonia.
Trajkovski’s added-time winner sparked “wild celebrations” among the North Macedonian players, staff and traveling fans, he said Sky news. For the country that gained independence with the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, this was undoubtedly the best result in its history.
North Macedonia are now just 90 minutes away from reaching back-to-back tournaments BBC reported. Before qualifying for Euro 2020, they had never reached a Euro or World Cup. With Portugal next, the journey is “not yet complete”. However, the result in Italy was “undoubtedly the surprise of the playoffs”.
Portugal head coach Fernando Santos had warned his players that North Macedonia could shock Italy – and he was right. Reuters reported. Portugal must now “show North Macedonia the same respect as Italy,” Santos said at a press conference. “I told you before we could play them, these games are no joke, it’s like a final and anything can happen. You must face him with the focus and concentration he deserves. A team that goes to Italy and beats the European champions needs no introduction.”
“Seemingly impossible results”
International football is “full of excitement” and that is “all the better,” he said PlanetFootball. North Macedonia’s victory over Italy is the latest in international football’s “strong tradition of seemingly impossible results”. Just five years ago, North Macedonia was ranked 166th in the world, but “now they’ve beaten the European champions to take a big step towards the biggest tournament in the entire sporting world”.
How does the win compare to some of the other biggest shocks? The sun asked. “The absence of the Italians in Qatar this winter will go down as one of the biggest upsets in international football history.”
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/sport/football/956222/north-macedonia-italy-football-biggest-ever-upsets North Macedonia shocks Italy: One of the biggest surprises in football?