Sweden shatter Italy's World Cup dream

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

Despite creating the majority of the chances in the match and dominating in possession, Italy lacked the cutting edge they needed to find a goal, while Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen, captain Andreas Granqvist and Co did enough to help their nation over the line and into their first World Cup since Germany 2006.

Italy must not panic as they bid to avoid missing a World Cup for the first time in 60 years, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said after a 1-0 play-off first-leg defeat by Sweden pushed them to the brink of disaster. We are all guilty and responsible for that: "football is like that".

Italian manager Gian Piero Ventura was forced into finally playing Jorginho from the start thanks to Marco Veratti's suspension, and the Napoli man was one of the only bright spots on the night for an Italy side which has consistently struggled for creativity in a tough qualifying campaign.

Gianluigi Buffon fought back tears as he confirmed his retirement from global football following Italy's shock failure to qualify for Russian Federation 2018.


Italy had the bad luck of being drawn into the same group as Spain.

"We can make no mistakes, we are focusing on what we must do to win but if we fail to qualify everybody should take the blame", the 39-year-old Juventus player said at the pre-match press conference. That is the only regret I have and certainly not that I am finishing my career, because time passes and it's only right.

The European Qualifiers for 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia is still ongoing with one of the most anticipated games being played tonight exclusively on StarTimes. I don't want to think it's the game of life but I'm convinced that, with the help of the fans, we will do it. "We invite them to support us, but realize the time has come for us to show them what we've got". Ireland take on Denmark in Dublin on Tuesday, with the tie finely poised at 0-0 after the teams' draw in Copenhagen on Saturday.

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