Swe­den shat­ter Italy’s World Cup dream

Fiji Sun - - Sports -

Mi­lan: Italy have failed to qual­ify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958 af­ter they were held to a goal­less home draw by Swe­den in the sec­ond leg of their play­off yes­ter­day.

Swe­den ad­vanced to its first World Cup since 2006 with their play­ers cel­e­brat­ing wildly af­ter the fi­nal whis­tle, even de­stroy­ing a makeshift broad­cast panel be­side the pitch as they mobbed the com­men­ta­tors.

It could have been worse for Italy, as Swe­den was de­nied what looked like two clearcut penal­ties for hand­balls, first by Mat­teo Darmian and then 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.

But the Az­zurri strug­gled to carve out clear chances against a solid Swe­den side, and re­ally tested goal­keeper Robin Olsen only once. This will be only the sec­ond World Cup missed by Italy. The first was in 1958.

The last ma­jor com­pe­ti­tions Italy failed to qual­ify for were the 1984 and 1992 Euro­pean Championships.

It would be easy to lay the blame squarely on Gian Piero Ven­tura. The Italy coach will nat­u­rally take the lion’s share but the Az­zurri’s prob­lems run much deeper.

The rot started long be­fore Ven­tura took charge.

Photo: Zim­bio

Alessan­dro Florenzi of Italy re­acts af­ter los­ing to Swe­den on Novem­ber 13, 2017 in Mi­lan.

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