Italy OUT of World Cup; emotional Buffon says 'we've failed the country'

The Crystal Palace boss was present as Sweden beat Italy 1-0 in World Cup play-off first leg

But the series of playoff games for Russian Federation 2018 have seen fear of failure drown out ambition, leading to some desperately tiresome encounters and precious few goals.

Despite plenty of chances, Italy has been sent packing from the FIFA World Cup, unable to secure the goal they needed in the second leg of their play-off against Sweden. The ball struck Matteo Darmian's hand inside the box, but the Spanish referee ignored Sweden's protests.

However, Antonio Conte's Italy side overachieved in France past year, when it surprisingly beat Spain in the round of 16 before losing on penalties to world champion Germany.

Sweden were dealt a blow in the 17th minute when Johansson was injured while lunging for the ball and had to be stretchered off the pitch.

Two minutes later Sweden were screaming for a penalty again - and Emil Forsberg was booked for dissent - after Forsberg's attempted cross struck the arm of Andrea Barzagli, but again nothing was given.

"The closest Italy came to scoring was a Ciro Immobile effort which was partially stopped by Olsen and cleared away by Victor Lindelof as it was about to trickle over the line".


The play was nearly entirely focused on Sweden's back half in the final minutes.

The result is a disaster for the Italian national team - which last missed the finals in 1958 - and for embattled coach Gian Piero Ventura, whose tactics and methods have been questioned by pundits and former players alike.

Just 16 months ago, the Azzurri were only knocked out of Euro 2016 via a quarter-final penalty shootout defeat to Germany, but the upward trajectory started by Antonio Conte has not continued under Ventura, whose position appears untenable.

But the goal didn't come, and the inquest will begin after one of the biggest shocks for the Italian team in almost 60 years.

Despite the support of 74,000 fans in a white-hot atmosphere at the San Siro the 2006 World Cup winners could not find a way through.

After the match, their veteran 39-year-old goalkeeper Buffon confirmed his global retirement and also apologised for his team's failure.

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