Italy fall short against Sweden in 0-0 draw at San Siro

Sweden and Italy gear up for World Cup playoff clash

The absence of the Italians is the more momentous event, given that they have won the trophy four times and last failed to reach the tournament in 1958. It is something the entire country must now confront. Sweden's anthem was profoundly disrespected by the majority of those present, who whistled throughout. This is how Gianluigi Buffon's global career will end.

The game was as intense as its build-up.

In the 13th minute, Lahoz waved away another penalty appeal at the other end.

It was still goal-less at half-time, and the tension rose as time began to tick down in the second stanza, with Italy increasingly desperate to get the goal that would keep them in contention.

"We did not underestimate anything, because those who played in these games knows what it means to face these sides, how hard it is to overcome a 1-0 deficit psychologically too".

The last major competitions Italy failed to qualify for were the 1984 and 1992 European Championships.

The United States would nearly certainly have made it, with Panama's "ghost" goal against Costa Rica guaranteed to have been ruled out by VAR, while Northern Ireland rightfully feel aggrieved that they lost their playoff to Switzerland courtesy of a penalty awarded for a handball that never was in the playoff first leg in Belfast.

Sweden made two changes, Emil Krafth and the injured Albin Ekdal making way for Celtic's Mikael Lustig and Jakob Johansson.

Alessandro Florenzi was also back following a year out after twice tearing a knee ligament, and the midfielder forced Olsen into his only real save, while a cross of his was also deflected onto the crossbar in the second half.

The pressure continued, but Sweden's defence remained solid. In 450 minutes of football, from New Zealand to Denmark, Honduras to Switzerland and Greece, not one team or player was able to score.

On aggregrate sweden leads by 1-0.