Italy fails to qualify for second World Cup in a row

Reigning European champions lose to North Macedonia in shock result.

Italy has failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after losing 1-0 to North Macedonia in a play-off in Palermo on Thursday night.

Aleksandar Trajkovski scored the winning goal in the 92nd minute, meaning that Italy has failed to qualify for a second consecutive World Cup.

The shock result comes just eight months after Roberto Mancini's side beat England in Wembley to win the Euro 2020 championship last July.

It means that Italy will be absent from the world's biggest international football showpiece for 12 years, after failing to qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia.

Until then Italy had played in every World Cup since 1958, winning the coveted trophy four times, with the last victory in 2006.

"It is difficult to explain, there is great disappointment, we are destroyed", Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini told state broadcaster RAI after last night's match.

The Juventus defender added that he was "proud of his teammates" and said: "I hope Mancini stays, we need him to".

Mancini told RAI that winning the Euros was "the best thing that happened to me on a personal level, but this is the biggest disappointment."

"I don't know what to say. I'm very sorry for the players" - said Mancini - "My future? The disappointment is too big to talk about."

Photo ANSA