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

AP Published: 2017-11-14 09:30:56
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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.

Italian players react to their elimination at the end of the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. [Photo: AP]

Italian players react to their elimination at the end of the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. [Photo: AP]

They played to a goalless draw in the second leg at San Siro on Monday local time.

Sweden advanced to its first World Cup since 2006.

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

Swedish players react to their qualification at the end of the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. [Photo: AP]

Swedish players react to their qualification at the end of the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. [Photo: AP]

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.

Italy's Ciro Immobile, left, shots on goal during the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. [Photo: AP]

Italy's Ciro Immobile, left, shots on goal during the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. [Photo: AP]

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 on Gian Piero Ventura. The Italy coach will naturally take the lion's share but the Azzurri's underperformance started long before Ventura took charge.

Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon waves as he leaves the pitch after the elimination of his team in the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. [Photo: AP]

Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon waves as he leaves the pitch after the elimination of his team in the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match between Italy and Sweden, at the Milan San Siro stadium, Italy, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. [Photo: AP]

After winning the World Cup in 2006 for a fourth time, Italy went out at the group stage of the next two editions. It fared somewhat better at the European Championship, reaching the final in 2012 and going out in the quarterfinals in 2008 and 2016.

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