Sweden and Italy gear up for World Cup playoff clash

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With seconds left, Italy forced a corner, but when the final whistle blew there was nothing but a chorus of boos from the Italian supporters as their team's World Cup dreams were ended.

An El Shaarawy shot was kept out by Olsen and Parolo's header whent wide, then Buffon came up for a corner in a final desperate gamble as Italy fell short of reaching the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

Photo Alessandro Florenzi and Italy were eliminated from the 2018 World Cup when they failed to beat visiting Sweden on Monday.

The Juventus legend insisted he was not saddened by the end of his global career, which peaked with the 2006 World Cup triumph, but rather the effect the result will have on Italian football.

Gianluigi Buffon fought back tears as he confirmed his retirement from global football following Italy's shock failure to qualify for Russian Federation 2018.

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It promises to be a superb match and there will be plenty of neutrals supporting a star-filled Italy squad, hoping they don't fail to qualify for a World Cup for the first time since 1958. Now, they join The Netherlands as football juggernauts who won't even make an appearance in Russian Federation. The Manchester United forward, due to return within the next six weeks following a cruciate ligament injury, retired from global football after Euro 2016, but the prospect of a World Cup swansong may now prove irresistible. The first rule is not to cry over it.

This will be only the second World Cup missed by Italy. The Swedish defence held firm, the game ending goalless. In 450 minutes of football, from New Zealand to Denmark, Honduras to Switzerland and Greece, not one team or player was able to score. "There are another 90 minutes and we want to make the most of it".

Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC.