Italy will miss the 2022 World Cup after being upset in their play-off against North Macedonia in Palermo.
In the 92nd minute, Aleksandar Trajkovski collected a loose ball, raced forward, and shot a spectacular winner from beyond the box.
North Macedonia’s bench erupted in excitement, while Italy’s players and coaching staff fell to their knees in front of their home crowd.
Italy has now failed to qualify for the World Cup for the second consecutive year, meaning the Azzurri will wait at least 12 years between appearances at football’s pinnacle tournament.
It’s been less than eight months since Roberto Mancini’s side enjoyed one of their greatest victories – defeating England at Wembley to win Euro 2020 despite being considered underdogs heading into the competition.
However, they have now paid the price for a fragmented – albeit previously unblemished – World Cup qualifying campaign in which they placed second in their group behind Switzerland, winning four and drawing four of their eight matches.
Italy controlled possession on Thursday but was unable to break through a solid North Macedonia defence, managing only five shots on target in 32 attempts.
The visitors rated 67th in the world, earn a play-off final against Portugal, who defeated Turkey 3-1.
North Macedonia are 90 minutes away from qualifying for successive tournaments, having never qualified for the Euros or World Cup before Euro 2020 qualification.
Italy, which has won four World Cups and is placed sixth in the world, will observe proceedings in Qatar in November and December from afar.