Italy fail to qualify for World Cup after play-off defeat to Sweden

Italy have failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years after a play-off defeat to Sweden.

Jakob Johansson’s first-leg goal, which beat Gianluigi Buffon via a deflection, was enough to settle 120 minutes of action despite a dominant performance from the Azzurri in Milan on Monday evening.

The hosts enjoyed almost 75 per cent possession and peppered the Sweden goal with 17 shots but failed to properly test Robin Olsen between the posts as poor finishing let Giampiero Ventura’s side down.

It could have been worse for Italy, as Sweden was denied what looked like two clear-cut penalties for handballs, first from Matteo Darmian and then from Andrea Barzagli.

Italy had a penalty appeal of its own waved off by referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz when Marco Parolo was tripped from behind by Ludwig Augsustinsson.

The last major competitions Italy missed were the 1984 and 1992 European Championships. Not since 1958 have Italy missed out on the World Cup with the Brazil-hosted 2014 tournament their 13th consecutive qualification .

After winning the World Cup in 2006 for a fourth time, Italy went out at the group stage of the next two editions. It has fared somewhat better at the European Championships, reaching the final in 2012 and going out in the quarterfinals in 2008 and 2016.

However, Antonio Conte’s Italy side overachieved in France last year, when it surprisingly beat Spain in the round of 16 before losing on penalties to world champion Germany.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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