2022 WCQ

No World Cup for Italy as giant-killing North Macedonia sets up qualifying final with Portugal

Italy will miss a second World Cup in a row after failing to qualify for Russia 2018

North Macedonia celebrates

Italy got stunned on Thursday at the Stadio Renzo Barbera in Palermo as they fell to a 1-0 defeat in their World Cup qualifying semi-final playoff with North Macedonia. The defeat means the Azzurri will not compete in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

After 90 minutes of stalemate, Aleksandar Trajkovski picked up the loose ball in injury time and drove forward, before shooting a spectacular winner from outside the box.

His goal caused wild celebrations on the North Macedonian bench, with Italy burying their heads in shame in front of their home fans.

Despite having the most possession in the game, the hosts were unable to break down the stout North Macedonia defence, managing only five shots on target out of 30 attempts.

Defeat for Italy means they will not play at a second World Cup in a row after failing to qualify for Russia 2018.

The visitors - rated 67th in the world - will now face Portugal in the play-off final.

A Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal overcame Turkey 3-1 in their European World Cup qualifying semi-final play-offs at the Estadio do Dragao in Porto on Thursday night. The win, however, did not come easy as the Portuguese had to first, survive a second-half comeback.

First-half goals from attacking midfielder Otavio and forward Diogo Jota put Portugal ahead, but Burak Yilmaz halved the deficit in the second half.

Turkey were then handed a golden opportunity to get back into the game, but the Turkish captain - Yilmaz - missed the late penalty.

Portugal's then clinched the win in stoppage time thanks to Matheus Nunes, setting up a play-off decider against North Macedonia next Tuesday at home.

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