Italy fail to reach World Cup after play-off defeat by Sweden

Italy fail to reach World Cup after play-off defeat by Sweden

But for all of Italy's territorial dominance, clear cut chances were hard to fashion - they forced a couple of comfortable saves out of Robin Olsen, but by the 75th minute it was still deadlocked as the boos started to ring out around the San Siro.

Given one last chance to seize a place at next year's World Cup Italy produced a significantly improved performance but could not manufacture the goals they needed to overturn Sweden's first-leg advantage and win their qualifying play-off. By this stage, their World Cup hopes were hanging by a thread.

For the first time since 1958, Italy won't be participating in a World Cup.

Italy not lost competitive home game since 1999.

Honduras and Australia will play off in Sydney on Wednesday after a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their tie, while two-legged clashes between Ireland and Denmark and Peru and New Zealand lie identically poised after their respective first legs.

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It could have been worse for Italy, as Sweden was denied what looked like two clear-cut penalties for handballs, first by Matteo Darmian and then Andrea Barzagli. But even in its most basic form, it would surely be better than the status quo, which sees officials castigated for honest mistakes and teams denied a place at the World Cup as a outcome.

This will be only the second World Cup missed by Italy. The Swedish defence held firm, the game ending goalless.

You can listen to Italy v Sweden in the World Cup play-off second leg live on talkSPORT2, on Monday, November 13 from 19:45. The closest Italy came to an actual goal was when Florenzi crossed and Lustig's header looped on to his own bar.

Hopefully, that sequence of results will not be a sign of things to come in Russian Federation next summer, but there is a real danger of the World Cup becoming a tournament where defences come out on top. "There are another 90 minutes and we want to make the most of it".

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