Italy branded "cowards" as minnows North Macedonia shatter World Cup hopes

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Italy have been branded "cowards" on social media after minnows North Macedonia shattered their hopes of reaching the World Cup in Qatar.

On home soil at the Stadio Renzo Barbera in Palermo, a 92nd-minute winner from Aleksandar Trajkovski condemned the reigning European champions to a 1-0 defeat. Having also failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament, the shock result means the Azzurri will miss a second successive World Cup.

It's just eight months since Italy beat England via a penalty shootout to claim the Henri Delaunay Trophy. And fans – and pundits – have not held back in their brutal assessments of Roberto Mancini's side, with one supporter labelling them "cowards."

"One of the biggest shocks in European Qualifying history?! What has happened to Italy in the last 8 months???" questioned one supporter.

"Nothing better than ending the day and hearing that Italy lost to Northern Macedonia and are out of the World Cup," quipped another.

"If you can’t beat North Macedonia, then you don’t deserve to be in the World Cup. Stay at home. Good riddance to Italy. They’re jokers," joked a third.

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"This Italy World Cup flop is nothing short of a disaster. Players won the Euros just months ago," added a fourth.

While Match of the Day host Gary Lineker couldn't help but join in. He chirped: "For Italy to go from being European Champions to not even making the final playoff stage is an almighty and devastating fall."

The last time the Azzurri played in a World Cup knockout match was the 2006 final against France that handed them the Jules Rimet trophy. The shock 1-0 defeat means they'll have to wait at least 20 years before they get a chance to feature in such a fixture.

  • World Cup

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