Italy have been knocked out of the World Cup by North Macedonia, eight months before the finals have begun.
Euro 2020 champions Italy would have expected to breeze past North Macedonia in the semi final of their play off 'pathway,' to set up a final eliminator with Portugal.
However, despite dominating the game throughout, Italy were unable to find a way past their visitors for 90 minutes and then came the sucker punch.
Aleksandar Trajkovski scored in the 92nd minute to eliminate Roberto Mancini's side from qualification, and put Macedonia into the game with Portugal next week.
The final whistle brought incredible scenes for the visiting players, as they took a huge step towards their first finals of a major tournament.
SCENES AT FULL-TIME!- Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) March 24, 2022
A special night for North Macedonia :flag_mk:
European champions Italy will not play at the World Cup! :flushed: pic.twitter.com/xnd2QJpW65
Despite winning the Euros last summer, defeating England in the final at Wembley, Mancini's side have not been able to kick on.
They finished second in their qualification group to Switzerland, after drawing their final two games in November, to the Swiss and Northern Ireland.
That left them in the qualifying play-off, and the draw meant that at least one of Italy or Portugal, the past two European champions, wouldn't be getting to Qatar.
On Thursday, Italy had 32 shots in the match, with 66% possession, but only five of those were on target and they couldn't break through.
In the 92nd minute, with just three minutes left of injury time and the game heading for extra time, Trajkovski brilliant strike from outside of the area rolled into the bottom corner.
WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT!!!- Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) March 24, 2022
North Macedonia have scored in added-time :scream:
Italy are on the brink of not reaching the World Cup :flushed: pic.twitter.com/ty5GzandXP
Having won the World Cup in 2006, Italy's World Cup record in the 16 years since has not been anywhere near good enough.
They failed to get past the group stages in 2010 and 2014, despite beating England in their opening game of the latter.
The four time world champions didn't manage to qualify for the tournament in Russia four years ago, after losing a play off to Sweden.
Having taken the European title just nine months ago, Mancini, his side and the whole country would have expected to qualify for Qatar, instead they'll have a winter to forget.
For Macedonia though, March 24th will go down in history!
Featured Image Credit: Sky Sports
- Lionel Messi's final words uttered before winning penalty for Argentina in World Cup final have been revealed
- Seven countries that have been banned from playing in the FIFA World Cup
- Qatar World Cup: Tournament Organisers Admit Some Workers Have Been Exploited In The Country
- World Cup 2022: Can fans drink alchohol in Qatar? Is beer allowed?