Under-fire Ventura slams referee as Italy's World Cup hopes hang in the balance

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The Azzurri face an uphill struggle to make Russia 2018 after tasting defeat in Friday's play-off first leg against Sweden

Italy head coach Gian Piero Ventura felt his team's 1-0 World Cup play-off loss to Sweden was "an incorrect result".

The Azzurri face missing out on World Cup qualification for the first time in 60 years – a situation they must now remedy in Monday's return leg at San Siro.

Italy 4/1 to beat Sweden 1-0

Ventura reverted to the 3-5-2 formation employed by predecessor Antonio Conte for the match at Friends Arena but they lacked creativity in the face of a robust Sweden side, who claimed victory through substitute Jakob Johansson's deflected strike in the 61st minute.

Matteo Darmian almost equalised when his rasping drive cannoned back off the post, leaving Ventura feeling hard done by, and he reserved some of his frustration for the match officials.

"[Gianluigi] Buffon did not make a save, we created opportunities and hit the post," Ventura told Sky Sport Italia.

"It's an incorrect result. It needed more attention from the referee. Now I hope that at San Siro they allow us what the referee allowed them tonight.

"A draw was the minimum we could've expected considering the two performances. I repeat, at this level, the referee needed to be more attentive.

"There were chances from [Andrea] Belotti and Darmian. After the first 90 minutes they are ahead, now I hope that San Siro will give us a hand."

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