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Italy v North Macedonia Live Commentary, 24/03/2022

FT
0 - 1
ITA
MKD
A. Trajkovski (90+2)
Stadio Renzo Barbera

Commentary

Thanks for joining our commentary this evening. Until next time, goodbye.
North Macedonia will take on Portugal in the final of Path C qualifying on March 29 in Porto. Italy will be left to re-assess after a damaging defeat. Roberto Mancini led them to a historic European Championship triumph only last year, but this will leave a lasting mark on his legacy.
North Macedonia pull off one of the great upsets in World Cup qualifying history by defeating Italy at the Renzo Barbera, knocking the Azzurri out of the competition. Aleksandar Trajkovski scored the decisive strike for the visitors in stoppage time with a perfect effort on his right foot that beat Gianluigi Donnarumma to hand his side the victory. Italy pressed all evening, but failed to find the back of the net courtesy of brilliant defending from Blagoja Milevski's men and wasteful finishing from the hosts. The European champions will not be in Qatar, while North Macedonia advance to the final stage in Path C qualifying.
90' + 6' FULL-TIME: ITALY 0-1 NORTH MACEDONIA
90' + 5' CHANCE! Florenzi latches on to a loose ball in the North Macedonia box and fires at goal from the inside-right channel. It travels towards the target, but his effort hits off Joao Pedro and goes wide.
B. Miovski
Assist
North Macedonia
90' + 2' Miovski feeds the run of Trajkovski on the edge of the Italy box before the forward applies the perfect finish.
A. Trajkovski
Goal
North Macedonia
90' + 2' WHAT A GOAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! INCREDIBLE SCENES AT THE RENZO BARBERA!!!!!! TRAJKOVSKI FIRES NORTH MACEDONIA AHEAD!!!!! 1-0!!!!!!!! Trajkovski drills home a strike from 25 yards to surely put his side one game away from the World Cup. Miovski plays the forward into space and he lines up a strike to nothing from outside of the Italy box. He connects sweetly with his right-footed effort that beats the hand of Donnarumma and finds the bottom-left corner.
90' There will be five minutes of added time.
G. Chiellini
G. Mancini
Italy
90' Mancini is withdrawn at the back and is replaced by Chiellini.
João Pedro
D. Berardi
Italy
89' Joao Pedro replaces Berardi, who tried his utmost but failed to find a breakthrough for the home side.
K. Ristevski
D. Velkovski
North Macedonia
86' Ristevski replaces Velkovski at the back for the visitors for the closing minutes. This must be injury-related.
85' CHANCE! Emerson sends Pellegrini into the inside-left channel, but he cannot fire his attempt on the slide at goal. Alioski at the back post takes no chances putting the ball behind for a corner.
82' Time is running out for the home side to force the issue to prevent extra-time. It has been a fine rearguard action from the visitors.
D. Velkovski
Yellow Card
North Macedonia
80' Velkovski goes into the book for the visitors.
78' OVER! Raspadori latches on to a knockdown from Pellegrini, but he blasts his first-time strike over the top.
L. Pellegrini
C. Immobile
Italy
77' Immobile was off the boil tonight and is replaced by Pellegrini in the final third. Raspadori will move into the middle of the line.
S. Tonali
N. Barella
Italy
77' Barella is withdrawn for the home side in the middle of the park and is replaced by Tonali.
75' Italy are becoming hurried in their passing and movement around the North Macedonia box. The pressure is well and truly on the Azzurri now otherwise it's extra-time.
73' Raspadori swings a corner into the box from the right flank, but Mancini can only plant his header over the bar.
73' Askovski gets across in time for the visitors to divert Florenzi's strike from the inside-right channel behind for a corner.
B. Miovski
M. Ristovski
North Macedonia
72' Ristovski is withdrawn in the final third for the home side for Miovski.
69' The visitors continue to put men behind the ball to frustrate the Azzurri. The longer this goes on the more frustrated Italy will become and potentially leave a gap on the counter.
67' SAVE! Bastoni rises highest in the box to attack a cross from Raspadori, but Dimitrievski does well to claim his header amid the presence of Immobile.
66' Mancini looks fairly concerned on the bench as his side continue to struggle in front of goal. It's fair to say they're missing the dynamic threat of Chiesa.
G. Raspadori
L. Insigne
Italy
64' Insigne is withdrawn from the final third and is replaced by Raspadori.
63' BLOCK! Musliu puts in a brilliant block to deny Berardi from six yards out. The winger latches on to Verratti's chipped pass and chests the ball down before firing at goal. He surely thinks he has finally found the net, only to be denied by a last-ditch block from the North Macedonia defender. Even Berardi gives Musliu a pat on the back.
61' Verratti has created 7 chances in this game, more than any other player on either team.
59' OVER! Trajkovski collects on the left flank and angles another strike at goal from 20 yards, but he sends his effort narrowly over the bar.
S. Aškovski
A. Ademi
North Macedonia
59' Askovski makes his way on to the field to replace Ademi in the middle of the park.
S. Spirovski
B. Nikolov
North Macedonia
59' Nikolov makes way from the North Macedonia midfield with an apparent injury and is replaced by Spirovski.
58' CHANCE! Musliu makes a rare mistake as he slips and presents Berardi with the chance to fire at goal after collecting a pass from Verratti. However, on his weaker right foot, he blazes his strike over the bar.
57' Florenzi collects from a sublime offload from Jorginho, but his cross into the box is cleared by Velkovski ahead of Insigne.
54' CLOSE! Verratti sends Berardi away once more down the right flank and he cuts inside to shoot on his left foot. This time he does connect well with his strike, but it whistles wide of the left post.
53' SAVE! Berardi cuts in from the right flank and carves out enough room to fire at goal, but he cannot generate the power on his strike to beat Dimitrievski, who gathers at the second attempt.
52' WIDE! Bardhi launches a break for the visitors and then collects the ball from Alioski's deflected cross, but he sends a tame effort wide of the left post.
50' Italy are still struggling to break down the visitors and their fierce line of resistance. There's no way through for the home side at the moment.
47' BLOCK! Verratti carries the ball forward in the final third and offloads to Berardi, who continues to find defenders with his attempts at goal.
46' We're back under way at the Renzo Barbera.
It has been all hands to the deck for North Macedonia at the back in the first half, but they've limited Italy's openings in the final third. They have even had a couple of moments of the break, which will give them confidence of pulling off an upset in the second period.
It is goalless at the break in the World Cup qualifying playoff semi-final clash between Italy and North Macedonia. The Azzurri have done all of the pressing in the opening 45 minutes, but have not been able to muster a breakthrough. Domenico Berardi spurned their best opening as he placed a tame strike straight at Stole Dimitrievski after a mistake by the keeper. Roberto Mancini and his team face a test of their nerve in the second half.
45' + 1' HALF-TIME: ITALY 0-0 NORTH MACEDONIA
45' There will be one minute of added time.
45' SAVE! Bardhi steps away from one challenge to release Trajkovski and he lines up a strike at goal from 20 yards, but Donnarumma gets down to save his effort.
44' Bastoni presses forward down the left flank and steers a low ball towards the six-yard box that Musliu clears ahead of Immobile.
43' Dimitrievski is a lot more confident on this occasion to clear a corner from Dimitrievski, punching the delivery away from the six-yard box.
42' BLOCK! Nikolov is the latest North Macedonia man to put his body on the line to block a strike from a blue shirt as he repels Immobile's effort.
39' Milan Ristovski robs Mancini of possession and it allows the forward to surge into the Italy half. Only a great covering challenge from Florenzi prevents the forward from firing at goal. A warning for the Azzurri.
38' SCRAMBLE! Emerson steers a low cross into the box that Verratti fires towards goal, only to see his effort blocked by Musliu. Immobile pounces on the rebound, but angles his effort wide of the left post.
36' BLOCK! Emerson robs Churlinov of possession before Verratti offloads for Immobile on the edge of the North Macedonia box. The forward turns to fire at goal, but Stefan Ristovski puts his body on the line to divert his strike wide of the target.
34' Italy are ramping up the pressure on the visitors, but are yet to get the breakthrough. The Azzurri must maintain patience in the final third.
33' WIDE! Insigne tries to catch out Dimitrievski with a quick free-kick from the left flank, but the keeper gets down to push his effort wide of the left post.
31' SAVE! Verratti threads the ball through for the run of Immobile in the inside-left channel. The forward strikes on the stretch with his left foot, but Dimitrievski does well to push his effort over the bar.
30' CHANCE! Dimitrievski gifts the ball straight to Berardi with a loose offload and the winger goes for goal first-time on his left foot. However, he fails to connect with enough power and the keeper gets back to make the stop.
29' WIDE! Space opens up for Barella in the final third and he lines up a strike on his right foot that drifts wide of the left post.
27' Jorginho looks for a long ball over the top for Immobile, but it evades the outstretched boot of the forward and travels through to Dimitrievski.
25' Verratti tries to angle a strike at goal from the edge of the North Macedonia box, but he sends his effort harmlessly over the bar. The PSG man seemed in two minds there.
22' Berardi probes down the right flank, but Alioski tracks him all the way and wins a free-kick as the Italy winger fouls the full-back in his bid to regain possession.
20' Insigne lifts another dangerous cross to the near post that Dimitrievski fails to deal with, but the ball falls kindly for Bardhi to clear.
19' BLOCK! Berardi cuts in from the right flank and tries to carve out space for a strike, but his effort is charged down by Stefan Ristovski.
16' Italy enjoyed 78.9 per cent of possession over the opening 15 minutes of this game.
15' Insigne lifts a cross into the box from the left flank that Dimitrievski flaps at, but Alioski is alert at the back post to clear the danger for the visitors.
14' Emerson continues to ask questions of the North Macedonia defence down the left flank, but Stefan Ristovski does well to divert his cross behind.
11' Alioski miscues a clearance in the North Macedonia box, but Verratti fails to line up a strike at goal and the defender gets to clear his lines.
10' Florenzi takes possession on the edge of the North Macedonia box, but he sees his effort charged down before Emerson has a cross deflected behind for a corner.
9' Italy pile the pressure on the visitors with a series of crosses into the box, but the North Macedonia defence holds firm for now.
6' BLOCK! Berardi turns on the edge of the box and fires at goal on the half-volley, but Musliu makes a vital block for the visitors and appears to hurt himself in the process.
5' Trajkovski makes a break in the final third for the visitors, but he sends an offload away from the run of Milan Ristovski in the Italy box.
3' WIDE! Emerson latches onto a loose ball on the edge of the North Macedonia box, but he scuffs his right-footed strike wide of the right post.
2' Berardi makes a neat turn in the final third, but his distribution lets him down as he fails to find the run of Florenzi on his right.
1' We're under way in this World Cup qualifying playoff semi-final clash.
The players are out on the field, so we should be under way shortly.
North Macedonia have made two changes from the win over Iceland in their last game. Eljif Elmas misses out along with Tihomir Kostadinov in the middle of the park. Ademi and Nikolov come into the side to replace the duo.
Mancini has made five changes to his Italy side from their last outing against Northern Ireland. Federico Chiesa and Leonardo Bonucci are sidelined by long-term injuries, leaving the Azzurri boss without two key players. Florenzi, Mancini and Bastoni come into the side in the backline. Mancini replaces Bonucci, while Bastoni gets the nod over Acerbi. Giovanni De Lorenzo is also out, which sees the veteran Florenzi start at right-back. Verratti is back in the middle of the park ahead of Tonali, while Immobile slots in for Chiesa in the final third.
NORTH MACEDONIA SUBS: Todor Todoroski, Stefan Askovski, Kire Ristevski, David Babunski, Kristijan Naumovski, Nikola Serafimov, Valon Ethemi, Dorian Babunski, Stefan Spirovski, Jani Atanasov, Damjan Siskovski, Bojan Miovski.
NORTH MACEDONIA (4-4-2): Stole Dimitrievski; Stefan Ristovski, Darko Velkovski, Visar Musliu, Ezgjan Alioski; Darko Churlinov, Arijan Ademi, Enis Bardhi, Boban Nikolov; Aleksandar Trajkovski, Milan Ristovski.
ITALY SUBS: Salvatore Sirigu, Mattia De Sciglio, Giorgio Chiellini, Sandro Tonali, Bryan Cristante, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Joao Pedro, Matteo Pessina, Alessio Cragno, Francesco Acerbi, Matteo Politano, Giacomo Raspadori.
ITALY (4-3-3): Gianluigi Donnarumma; Alessandro Florenzi, Alessandro Bastoni, Gianluca Mancini, Emerson; Nicolo Barella, Jorginho, Marco Verratti; Domenico Berardi, Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne.
North Macedonia are bidding to reach the World Cup for the first time as an independent nation. They played extremely well in the group stage to finish second Germany, winning five of their 10 matches. Blagoja Milevski's men produced a brilliant performance to defeat Die Mannschaft in Germany last year, and will need a similar display to advance to the next stage of the playoffs tonight. It will take a complete effort from all across the field to overcome Italy.
The European champions still have to forge their way through to the World Cup finals after finishing second in Group C. The Azzurri were unbeaten in their eight matches, winning four and drawing four of their contests. However, Switzerland edged out Roberto Mancini's men, who now face two tough matches to book their place in Qatar. Italy were held to a goalless draw by Northern Ireland last time out, and the pressure will be on today as heavy favourites to advance.
Good evening and welcome to the live commentary of the World Cup qualifying playoff semi-final clash between Italy and North Macedonia at the Renzo Barbera.