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World Cup qualification UEFA play-off semi-final, Stadio Renzo Barbera – taly 0 North Macedonia 1 (Trajkovski, 92).

Aleksander Trajkovski struck late as North Macedonia stunned Italy to dump the European Champions out of the World Cup.

There was no way through for either side in the first half, despite Italy peppering the North Macedonia goal for large parts of the opening period.

The European Champions registered 16 shots on goal during the hugely dominant 45 minutes, the best chance falling to Nicolo Barella. Stole Dimitrievski – manning the North Macedonia goal – came out wide to receive a ball and played it straight to Barella on the edge of the box, but his weak effort gave Dimitrievski time to scramble back to his goal and retrieve the ball.

Despite hanging on for the majority of the first half, North Macedonia showed encouraging signs going forward, but weren’t clinical enough in the final third.

The second period was much the same, perhaps even more one-sided than the first. Italy had chances through Domenico Berardi, Ciro Immobile and Marco Verratti, but couldn’t find their way past a resilient North Macedonia defence.

Mirroring the first period and managing another 16 shots in the second half, Italy only managed to register five of those on target, which proved to be a big problem as they tried to look for ways to break the deadlock.

With minutes to go and into injury time, an unlikely North Macedonia counter attack threatened the Italian defence, before Trajkovski pulled the trigger on a speculative low-driven shot from 25 yards out, beating Gianluigi Donnarumma at the far post.

North Macedonia managed to see the game out, and set up a tie with Portugal next week as they look to book a place at Qatar 2022.

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