By James Walker-Roberts
Last Updated: 13/11/17 9:51pm
Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is set to retire at the end of the season
Italy have failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958 after a goalless second-leg draw against Sweden on Monday led to a 1-0 aggregate defeat.
Gian Piero Ventura’s side dominated possession at the San Siro but could not find a way past Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen, who saved from Ciro Immobile and Alessandro Florenzi at the end of the first half and then denied Stephan El Shaarawy late in the game.
Sweden offered little in attack but held on to secure their first World Cup appearance since 2006.
Italy: Buffon (6), Barzagli (5), Bonucci (6), Chiellini (6), Candreva (6), Parolo (5), Jorginho (7), Florenzi (6), Darmian (6), Immobile (5), Gabbiadini (4)
Subs: El Shaarawy (5), Belotti (5), Bernarderschi (5)
Sweden: Olsen (8), Lustig (7), Lindelof (8), Granqvist (8), Augustinsson (7), Claesson (6), Larsson (5), Johansson (5), Forsberg (5), Toivonen (5), Berg (5)
Subs: Svensson (5), Thelin (5), Rohden (5)
Man of the match: Robin Olsen
There were tears among the Italian players at the final whistle as defeat looks set to mark a changing of the guard, with several experienced players now unlikely to play at another World Cup.
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon – after winning his 175th cap – is set to retire at the end of the season while Daniele De Rossi, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli will all be in their late 30s in 2022.
Italy’s Alessandro Florenzi missed a chance in the first half
Head coach Ventura also faces a battle to keep his job after Italy again failed to break down Sweden over 90 minutes, despite showing much more attacking intent than they did in the first leg.
The game started in scrappy fashion, with penalty appeals waved away at both ends and Jakob Johanssson, scorer of the only goal of the tie, forced off with injury.
The first clear chance only arrived in the 27th minute when Immobile’s pass across the face of goal spilled out to Antonio Candreva and he blazed over from 12 yards out.
Italy’s Antonio Candreva (L) competes for the ball with Emil Forsberg
Sweden were denied a penalty when the ball struck Matteo Darmian’s arm, but had to hold on late in the first half as Italy applied sustained pressure.
Immobile saw a shot half-saved by Olsen and then cleared off the line by Andreas Granqvist before Florenzi was denied by Olsen after cutting into the box from the left.
Jorginho made his debut for Italy while Florenzi and Gabbiadini replaced De Rossi and Verratti. Johansson and Lustig started for Sweden.
Italy were denied a penalty early in the second half when Darmian appeared to be fouled, before Florenzi acrobatically volleyed wide.
The hosts continued to pile on the pressure but could not find a way through, with substitute El Shaarawy going closest when he shot at Olsen.
Man of the match – Robin Olsen
As they were in the first leg, Sweden were resilient in defence, but on this occasion they needed their goalkeeper to save them on a few occasions.
Olsen came to the rescue twice late in the first half when he helped keep out an effort from Immobile and then saved from Florenzi. He also stood firm late in the game as he kept out an effort from El Shaarawy.