2022 FIFA World Cup: Northern Macedonia players and support staff celebrate.© AFP
Northern Macedonia produced one of the biggest disappointments in world football when they won 1-0 in the play-off semi-finals to end Italy’s hopes of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Aleksandar Trajkovski scored in the second minute of injury time to surprise the European champions. As soon as the goal came in, the North Macedonian players and support staff plunged into a wild celebration even as the Italian players watched in horror. Northern Macedonia will now face Portugal in Porto on Tuesday for a chance to be in Qatar in November.
Reviewers also went wild in the air, describing the moment as “shocking”.
Watch Aleksandar Trajkovski’s crucial goal for Northern Macedonia and the ensuing celebration:
NORTH MACEDONIA !!! ONE OF MY GREAT FAVORITES OF ALL TIME
LIKE THAT, ITALIA IS OUT OF THE WORLD CUP! pic.twitter.com/DBRBcUhZC5
– ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 24, 2022
“We got two strokes and won the match. We won like the Italians against Italy,” said Blagoja Milevski, whose side will return Eljif Elmas of Napoli from suspension for their visit to Porto.
Italian manager Roberto Mancini described Italy’s departure as the “biggest disappointment” of his career.
Just as July was the best thing that happened to me in my career, this was my biggest disappointment … I am very sad for my players, ”Mancini told RAI.
“The frustration is too much for me to talk about my future for now.”
This is the second time in a row Italy has failed to qualify for the World Cup finals. Surprisingly, Italy have only lost twice since the start of 2019, to Spain in the League of Nations last autumn and on Thursday against Northern Macedonia.
Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal survived a late penalty drama to beat Turkey 3-1 to ensure their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup.
(With AFP input)
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