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On a miserable Thursday night for Roberto Mancini's side at the Renzo-Barbera stadium in Palermo, The Azzurri were left stunned by North Macedonia as they failed to qualify for the World Cup... again.
Aleksandar Trajkovski's goal in stoppage time means Italy will have a minimum gap of 12 years without a World Cup appearance - a quite remarkable stat considering last summer's European Championship success.
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
Italy, who eventually finished two points behind Switzerland in Group C, had to settle for a play-off place after drawing four of their last five games.
If Jorginho "the best midfielder in the world" scored this penalty, Italy would be in the World Cup. pic.twitter.com/OWdseW7vA0- ُ (@Asensii20) March 24, 2022
Jorginho didn't just miss 1 penalty vs Switzerland that cost Italy a place in the World Cup, HE MISSED TWO !!!!- Nico (@SulkyNico) March 24, 2022
Part 1 pic.twitter.com/1z8cMQYlc1
"It is difficult to explain what happened," he told RAI Sport. "It hurts so much. I'll be honest, I am still incredulous.
"I don't think we lacked creativity, as we always dominated matches and created so many chances. Unfortunately, we were unable to finish them off.
"We played good football, we won the European Championship last summer, but unfortunately in the last few games, we made small errors and were unable to recover from them. They made the difference.
"It hurts when I think about [the missed penalties], because I do still think about it, and it will haunt me for the rest of my life.
"Stepping up there twice and not being able to help your team and your country is something that I will carry with me forever, and it weighs on me.
"People say we need to lift our heads and carry on, but it's tough."
This Penalty miss by Jorginho will forever hunt him, he's one of the reason why Italy didn't qualify for World Cup. pic.twitter.com/mlinWH3RAd- OTUNBA :flag_ca: (@ManLikeIcey) March 24, 2022
After the full-time whistle on Thursday night, Italy boss Roberto Mancini said the early World Cup exit was the "biggest disappointment" of his reign so far.
In fact, when asked if he will continue in his role, Mancini said: "We will see. I think everyone is too disappointed right now to talk about the future.
"Just as the Euros was the most wonderful experience of my life, this was the biggest disappointment. We can say nothing, that is football, sometimes incredible things happen and it happened.
"We shouldn't have been here in the first place, but we did everything we could to win and it's hard to even talk about it.
"The victory at the Euros was absolutely deserved, we played great football. Then some of the fortune we had in that tournament turned into total and complete bad luck, as some unbelievable things happened from September onwards.
"We dominated the group, all we needed was one of those moments to go well, but neither of them did. Tonight, it feels almost as if conceding a goal at the 92nd minute was fitting.
"This is a group of fine players and I am sorry for them."
Roberto Mancini signed new contract in May, won Euros and now fails to qualify for World Cup. Eventful year.- Simon Stone (@sistoney67) March 24, 2022