North Macedonia crush Italy's World Cup hopes

North Macedonia celebrate their 1-0 win against Italy in Palermo. Photograph: DeFodi Images/Getty Images

North Macedonia celebrate their 1-0 win against Italy in Palermo. Photograph: DeFodi Images/Getty Images

North Macedonia have ended the World Cup hopes of Italy by beating the Azzurri 1-0 at the Renzo Barbera in Palermo, Italy.

The Italians had 32 shots, five on target, but failed to find the back of the net after 90 minutes against Blagoja Milevski's side who had just two shots on target out of four attempts.

Aleksandar Trajkovski broke the Italian hearts with a stoppage-time winner to send the Macedonians into the final of the World Cup play-offs.

The European champions will now miss out on the World Cup for the second time in a row after failing to make the competition four years ago, their first failure to reach soccer’s global showpiece tournament since 1958.

However, Milevski's giant-slaying side have just four days to prepare for another uphill task when they face Portugal in the final on Tuesday.

The Portuguese secured an uncomfortable 3-1 victory over Turkey at the Estádio do Dragão Stadium on Thursday night.

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