Published: Tue, November 14, 2017
Sports | By Spencer Underwood

Misfiring Italy fail to reach World Cup as Sweden go through

Misfiring Italy fail to reach World Cup as Sweden go through

Sweden held on to force a goalless draw in the second leg at the San Siro to defeat the Italians 1-0 on aggregate in their Russian Federation 2018 play-off.

There had been pressure on the referee, Antonio Mateu Lahoz, after Ventura criticised Cuneyt Cakir, the Turkish official who took charge of the first leg, and demanded that "we get at the San Siro what they got in Stockholm".

BC-SOC-Italy-Sweden, 1st Ld-Writethru, 546Italy fails to qualify for World Cup after draw with SwedenAP Photo PDJ151, FP143, FP130, PDJ144, PDJ139, PDJ137, PDJ135, PDJ134, FP132Eds: Updates with more detail.

"We must be confident in the return leg, otherwise we have already lost".

"All or nothing", had screamed the front page of the Gazzetta dello Sport, which carried a picture of Italy's beleaguered coach, Gian Piero Ventura, looking to the heavens.

Neither team was particularly impressive in the first leg of this matchup but Italy had a very disappointing display.

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Stephan El Shaarawy and Parolo both went close at the other end before stoppage time as the Azzurri desperately pressed on. "I'm fully aware that this game is fundamental for us, but it's the same scenario as when I first signed to lead the national side", he continued.

The big news from the first leg is that Marco Verratti will miss the second contest after picking up a yellow card in Sweden.

Four-time champion Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in six decades after losing its playoff to Sweden 1-0 on aggregate.

"The San Siro doesn't score, I've never seen a fan score", said Pirlo, a member of the 2006 World Cup-winning team who announced last week he was retiring from football. "The only thing that I would have would be a personal satisfaction, but in the wider scheme of things, I am irrelevant".

Away goals count double after 90 minutes. We know how to get back up again as we've always done.

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