Italy fails to net 2018 World Cup spot

The Star Democrat - - SPORTS -

(TNS) — Swe­den held Italy to a 0-0 draw in Mi­lan on Mon­day to qual­ify for the 2018 soc­cer World Cup on ag­gre­gate, elim­i­nat­ing the four-time world cham­pi­ons in a hard-fought play­off.

The re­sult at the San Siro, in com­bi­na­tion with Swe­den’s 1-0 win in Stock­holm on Satur­day, means Italy failed to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958.

The Az­zurri were plagued by their re­cent lack of pre­ci­sion through­out the game. They man­aged their first shots on tar­get late in the first half when An­dreas Gran­qvist de­fended on the goal line af­ter Ciro Im­mo­bile fired un­der the legs of goal­keeper Robin Olsen, who then stopped a shot that Alessan­dro Florenzi fired from the left.

The hosts’ poor fin­ish­ing con­tin­ued in the sec­ond half, de­spite bring­ing on strik­ers An­drea Belotti and Stephan El Shaarawy on 63 min­utes for Mat­teo Darmian and Manolo Gab­bia­dini.

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