Sweden beat four-time World Cup winners Italy to Russia 2018 finals


Italy have failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958.

Sweden held them to a 0-0 draw at a sold-out San Siro in Milan, meaning Jakob Johansson’s goal in the first leg in Stockholm won the tie for the Scandinavians.

Giampiero Ventura’s Azzurri were cheered on by almost 72,000 Italian fans in Milan, but despite laying siege to the Swedish defence over 90 feverish minutes, Italy could not make the breakthrough.

Head coach Ventura, who in August agreed a new contract running until 2020, has borne the brunt of the criticism across a World Cup campaign which saw four-time world champions Italy limp to a second-place finish behind Spain in their qualifying group.

Legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon may be hardest hit by Italy’s failure to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia. At 39, the Juventus player had already decided to quit international football after the tournament and his 175th cap may be his last.

An Italian front line of Southampton’s Manolo Gabbiadini and Lazio striker Ciro Immobile were unable to that crucial goal in the second leg, with Sweden’s keeper Andreas Granqvist their saviour as half-time drew nearer.

First he scooped Immobile’s effort off the line before tidying up when Marco Parolo looked like turning home a Darmian pass.

After the break Darmian had a penalty shout rejected after controlling Florenzi’s cross.

Florenzi’s next attempt struck the far post and following another turn of the screw Immobile was left with his head in his hands after side-footing Candreva’s wicked cross wide from close range.

Sweden held out, and they will play at the finals for the first time since 2006 – the same year in which Italy were last crowned champions of the world.


World News


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