Italy Misses World Cup for First Time Since 1958

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Gian Piero Ventura appears all but certain to be axed as national team boss as a result of the heartbreak, but saying goodbye to 175-cap veteran Buffon will hit the Italian fans harder.

The Swiss followed up a narrow 1-0 first-leg away against Northern Ireland with a 0-0 draw in Basel on Sunday night, while Croatia played out a 0-0 draw with Greece in Athens, but claimed a 4-1 aggregate win thanks to their thumping first-leg victory in Zagreb.

Italy have failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958 after being shut out by Sweden at a sold-out San Siro.

"Not for me, but for the football movement, because we failed something that could've been truly important for the country".

Head coach Ventura, who in August agreed a new contract running until 2020, has borne the brunt of the criticism across a World Cup campaign which saw four-time world champions Italy limp to a second-place finish behind Spain, and with that the ignominy of a two-legged play-off.

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For this final roll of the dice Ventura finally turned to Jorginho, the Napoli midfielder who had previously played 24 minutes of senior worldwide football and had not been considered worthy of a place in the squad since last May, 20 global matches ago. Sweden are a solid side and their behavior will make little difference, it all depends on us. There's regret at finishing like that, not because time passes.

But with Ventura controversially starting without attacking stars Lorenzo Insigne, Andrea Belotti and Stephan El Shaarawy, Sweden were able to hold firm and qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 2006. Immbobile beat Olsen with another but Andreas Granqvist got back for a decisive goal-line clearance.

The final play-off game will see Republic of Ireland host Denmark on Tuesday.

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