Italy has joined Portugal as one of the top European countries that will have to qualify for the Qatar 2022 world cup through the playoff.
This is following their barren draw with impressive Northern Ireland in the final game of group C.
Switzerland, therefore, secured the automatic ticket after thrashing Bulgaria 4-0.
Northern Ireland continued their impressive performance by hilding the European champions in what has been adjudged their best performance of the qualifying campaign.
If substitute Conor Washington had scored, they would have shattered the Azzurri in the last minute but his effort was cleared off the line.
The host ended the group in third place as a result of the draw.
Having been second in the group as Italy has a better goal difference, Switzerland needed to beat their visitors to ensure qualification for the global showpiece and they got the job done in style.
An outstanding performance from Northern Ireland in front of a raucous Windsor Park crowd also see efforts from George Saville and Stuart Dallas as both went close with good opportunities. Washington on his part raced onto a long ball in the 90th minute and beat the outrushing Donnarumma to the ball. After getting through on goal, the Charlton Athletic striker failed to catch his left-foot shot cleanly and it allowed Italy captain Leonardo Bonucci to get back and clear off his line.
It is hoped that the European champions won’t miss the showpiece like the last edition after they lost the last World Cup play-off to Sweden. But the draw will soon be known for the playoff that has been scheduled for March next year.
The hosts stood firm against an onslaught of Italian possession in the first half, before producing an impressive performance in the second half that almost earn them three points. In the match, Northern Ireland showed bravery, which was a big threat to Roberto Mancini’s side.
Written by: Oladipupo Mojeed