Italy fail to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958

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MAMMA MIA

Azzurri were booed off at the San Siro as they failed to overturn Jakob Johansson’s first leg strike and crashed out of Russia 2018

FROM Pavarotti to Pavarotten…and a World Cup without Italy for the first time in 60 years.

The four-time world champions will be watching from home next summer after the most humiliating night in their glorious history.

Gianluigi Buffon and his team-mates were dumped out of the World Cup by Sweden

AFP

Gianluigi Buffon and his team-mates were dumped out of the World Cup by Sweden
Sweden players celebrate as they knock Italy out of the World Cup at the qualifying stage

The legendary goalkeeper's international career ended on a depressing note

ALESSANDRO GAROFALO

The legendary goalkeeper’s international career ended on a depressing note

Sweden defied the odds to overcome the Azzurri and seal their spot at Russia 2018

AP:Associated Press

Sweden defied the odds to overcome the Azzurri and seal their spot at Russia 2018

The land of pasta became the land of spaghetti oops, as they crashed to play-off defeat against Sweden to miss out on the finals for the first time since 1958.

To coin a phrase, Georgio Armani, Sophia Loren, Fabio Capello, Valentino Rossi…your boys took one hell of a beating.

And for 69-year-old manager Gian Piero Ventura, the shame of being the first man never to lead the side to the World Cup – the only other time they missed out it was management by committee.

Yet when the dust settles and the horses heads have been left on the pillows, the Azzurri can blame no-one but themselves.

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

EPA

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

Giampiero Ventura's job at Italy boss will be under serious threat now after the nightmare at the San Siro

AFP

Giampiero Ventura’s job at Italy boss will be under serious threat now after the nightmare at the San Siro

Gianluigi Buffon is consoled by Leonardo Bonucci after a heart-breaking defeat

Getty Images – Getty

Gianluigi Buffon is consoled by Leonardo Bonucci after a heart-breaking defeat

Dominating possession but rarely threatening to unlock the well drilled Swedish backline was the story of their night.

A story which has become a recurring one in recent times as far as the current crop of flops are concerned, as well.


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The days when they boasted superstars like Andrea Pirlo, Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Del Piero are long gone.

This lot are more gorgonzola than Gianfranco Zola. They have generally stunk the place out just as much, too.

Daniele De Rossi has a spat on the touchline with Italian coach as Italy fail to make World Cup 2018 after Sweden loss

No invention, no magic, no flashes of genius. Just a case of get it into the box as quickly as possible and hope for the best, in the main.

Yes, they can argue all they like that they should have had a couple of penalties. But the Swedes had an even stronger case for two appeals of their own.

When Marco Parolo tumbled theatrically under Andreas Granqvist’s sixth minute challenge, it was optimistic in the extreme.

Sweden midfielder Sebastian Larsson celebrates reaching Russia

AFP

Sweden midfielder Sebastian Larsson celebrates reaching Russia

Ciro Immobile cannot contain his despair at missing out on the showpiece

Getty Images – Getty

Ciro Immobile cannot contain his despair at missing out on the showpiece

Gianluigi Buffon embraces referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz after the full time whistle

Getty Images – Getty

Gianluigi Buffon embraces referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz after the full time whistle

The second, when Mikael Lustig kneed Matteo Darmian in the guts was more clear cut, but referee Antonio Lahoz had already pulled him up for handball.

And Sweden could rightly claim to have had two even more blatant spot kicks ruled out, when Darmian and Andrea Barzagli both got away with using an arm.

Leonardo Bonucci and his team-mates were distraught at full time as the San Siro showed their dismay

AFP

Leonardo Bonucci and his team-mates were distraught at full time as the San Siro showed their dismay

The Italian squad have brought embarrassment on the nation

MAX ROSSI

The Italian squad have brought embarrassment on the nation

True, Granqvist had to be on his toes to hack clear when Ciro Immobile for once failed to live up to his name and trickled one towards the goal.

Keeper Robin Olsen did produce a couple of decent enough stops, and Alessandro Florenzi flashed a volley inches wide.

But this was San Zero at the San Siro. All huffing and puffing, and never looking likely to blow the house down.

Gianluigi Buffon claps energetically as Italy fans boo the Swedish national anthem

A wave of attacks, but simply no spark. No inspiration. No moment of magic to save their skins.

And a sad epitaph for skipper Gigi Buffon, a veteran of four World Cups, 175 caps and legendary status.

Keeper Buffon, 39, heads into retirement at the end of the season with his status as a footballing superstar intact for all this humiliation.

The Buffoons who made up the rest of the team should hang their heads in shame.


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