Italy misses World Cup in Qatar
Italy will be missing at the end of this year at the World Cup in Qatar. The team of national coach Roberto Mancini dominated in the semi-finals of the play-offs against North Macedonia, but went down dramatically in Palermo due to a goal in injury time.
Aleksandar Trajkovski shot North Macedonia to a historic victory in the 92nd minute. It is the second World Cup in a row that Italy has to pass up, because ‘La Squadra Azzurra’ also failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
It is not often that a reigning European champion does not qualify for the World Cup. Italy, which finished second behind Switzerland in the World Cup qualifying group and was therefore sentenced to the play-offs, comes in a row with Czechoslovakia (1978), Denmark (1994) and Greece (2006).
North Macedonia has never (as an independent country) participated in a World Cup. The ‘Red Lions’ made their debut at the European Championship last summer, but finished scoreless at the bottom of a group with the Netherlands, Austria and Ukraine.
In the final of the play-offs for a World Cup ticket, North Macedonia awaits a showdown with Portugal next Tuesday, which booked a 3-1 victory over Turkey.
The winner of the final can go to Qatar.
Italy misses World Cup in Qatar due to dramatic defeat against North Macedonia
Goalkeeper error does not harm North Macedonia
Given the game, it is a small miracle that Italy did not qualify for the final of the play-offs. The European champion dominated and had plenty of opportunities in Stadio Renzo Barbera, but failed to score against stiff North Macedonia.
Italy’s greatest chance came after half an hour of fumbling by goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski, who just played the ball into Domenico Berardi’s feet.
The attacker’s shot towards the virtually empty goal was too soft, allowing Dimitrievski to correct his mistake.
After the break, North Macedonia was once again ordered to defend, but the many possibilities were not for the Italians.
The game looked set to end in extra time, but Trajkovski plunged the Italians into mourning with a surprising long shot in injury time and was then overwhelmed by euphoric teammates.
Portugal is released with fear against Turkey
Portugal, with Cristiano Ronaldo in the base, started the cracker against the Turkey of Feyenoord midfielder Orkun Kökçü. Otavio worked the rebound from close range after fifteen minutes after a long shot hit the post.
Turkey reacted well to the quick goal and had several opportunities for the 1-1. For example, keeper Diogo Costa had to stretch after a shot by Kökçü. Turkey’s intentions were not rewarded with a goal.
In fact, Portugal managed to increase the margin to two before halftime. Diogo Jota surprised keeper Ugurcan Çakir with a header into the short corner.
The play-off match seemed over, but in the second half it became exciting again after a nice Turkish attack. Routinier Burak Yilmaz escaped the attention of the Portugal defenders with a one-two, after which he was able to pass goalkeeper Costa. Portugal was lucky that it stayed that way.
José Fonte caused a penalty in the final phase by Enes Ünal (ex-FC Twente) instead of hitting the ball – referee Daniel Siebert pointed to the dot after the intervention of the VAR – but Yilmaz shot wildly from 11 meters and could his country no extension.
Matheus Nunes even made it 3-1 in the end.
It is the fifth World Cup in a row that Turkey has missed. The Turks were last there in 2002, when the global final tournament was held in South Korea and Japan.
Turkey then finished third.
In the qualifying group for the World Cup in Qatar, Turkey finished second behind the Dutch national team.
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