European champions knocked out of 2022 FIFA World Cup after North Macedonia shock them in injury time
News from Italy: The European champions were expected to easily outclass their opponents in the qualifying playoffs. But they were shocked by a 90+2′ Trajkovski goal!
Roberto Mancini’s side were placed in a tough bracket of the qualifying playoffs which also involved Portugal. All pre-match talk was about the potential final between the two European heavyweights.
But North Macedonia has put the brakes on Italy. The Euro 2021 winners took a total of 32 shots in the match but they could only register 5 shots on target in 90 minutes.
The FIFA World Cup qualifiers looked set to go into extra time, but Aleksandar Trajkovski had other plans. The Al-Feiha striker scored a superb stoppage-time goal as he led North Macedonia to a 1-0 win over the Italians.
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The Azzurri would surely have entered the World Cup in Qatar as one of the favourites. As European champions, a lot was certainly expected of the Italians. But they just couldn’t handle the pressure.
Things just haven’t been the same for the Italians following the Euros final win over England in the summer. Since then, the Azzurri have won only 2 of their 8 games in all competitions.
Because of this, Roberto Mancini’s side lost the UEFA Nations League trophy in November. And after winning just one of their potential five matches in the World Cup qualifiers, they were edged out by Switzerland for a direct qualification spot.
Thanks to their defeat against North Macedonia, Italy will miss their second consecutive World Cup. The Italians were similarly eliminated four years ago as they failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
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chelsea Midfielder Jorginho has played an important role in Italy’s success in recent years. But the central midfielder missed some crucial penalties during Italy’s qualifying campaign that could have helped his country through.
Jorginho missed penalties in both of Italy’s qualifying matches against Switzerland. The Azzurri ended up drawing 0-0 and 1-1. Eventually, Switzerland would finish with 18 points in the qualifying campaign, 2 points over Italy.
After the match, Jorginho admitted that “It hurts when I think of missed penalties. I still think about it and it will haunt me for the rest of my life.
North Macedonia v Portugal!
North Macedonia, the 67th ranked team in the world, will face Portugal in the playoff final. Only the winner of this match will book their place for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. It remains to be seen whether North Macedonia can continue its fairy tale!