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AS Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini was a substitute as Italy suffered one of the poorest results in their history as one of the powerhouses in the world of football. The reigning European champions were stunned 1-0 at home by the North Macedonians thereby crashing out in the race to qualify for the World Cup tournament in Qatar.

Italy had earlier failed to qualify for the World Cup tournament for the first time in six decades when they failed to qualify for the 2018 edition in Russia.Shortly afterwards, ex-Inter Milan and Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini was appointed the Italy national team manager and he led them to win the Euro 2020 title in a remarkable transformation. The Italians won the Euro 2020 by beating England 3-2 during the penalty shootout after the two teams played out a 1-1 draw. Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw had given England the lead as early as the third minute in the final before Leonardo Bonucciequalised for Italy in the second half to force extra time and then the dreaded penalty shootout. The Italians were on a lengthy run of international games without defeat for over two years when they won the Euro 2020 title.

Roberto Mancini and his Italy players have been beatable since the Euro 2020 tournament thus missing out on automatic qualification from their qualifying group to Switzerland. They finished second in the group and had to settle for the playoffs. In the playoffs, they were drawn with North Macedonia in path C with the winner to face either Portugal or Turkey for a place in Qatar.
AS Roma star Pellegrini started the North Macedonia game on the bench as Mancini went for the tried and trusted midfield trio of Nicola Barella, Jorginho and Marco Veratti. The Roma player would come on for Lazio striker Ciro Immobile on 77 minutes while the scoreline was still goalless. The North Macedonians stunned home team Italy with the winning goal from AleksandarTrajkovski in the 92ndminute to set-up a meeting with hosts Portugal for a place in Qatar 2022. Portugal hadbeaten Turkey 3-1 in their own playoff tie.