FOOTBALL

Italy Fails To Qualify For World Cup

Italy failed to qualify for the world cup for the first time in 60 years after being held to a 0-0 home draw by a defiant Sweden, who booked a place at next year's finals in Russia with a 1-0 aggregate win.

Sweden survived waves of attacks in the second leg of their european playoff on a night of unremitting tension and drama at a stunned san siro where the cheers turned to boos after four-timnes champions italy were left to rue their spurned chances.

The Italians, who had not missed the world cup since the 1958 finals in sweden, had 75 percent of possession, squandered numerous opportunities and had penalty appeals turned down in their increasingly desperate search for an equaliser.

The Italy players, who along with their 69-year-old coach gian piero ventura, are likely to face long inquests, collapsed onto the pitch in despair at the final whistle and even veterans such as giorgio chiellini were inconsolable.

The defeat brought the curtain down on the remarkable international career of 39-year-old goalkeeper gianluigi buffon, who was making his 175th appearance for his country.