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North Macedonia stuns Italy, eliminates Italy from World Cup qualifying

This was a stunning road upset.

Aleksandar Trajkovski of North Macedonia scores their side’s first goal during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier knockout round play-off match between Italy and North Macedonia at Stadio Renzo Barbera on March 24, 2022 in Palermo, Italy. Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

World Cup qualifying is coming down the home stretch across the globe, and in Europe, we’ve got a shocker. North Macedonia scored a goal in the 92nd minute against Italy to win and advance to their playoff final. North Macedonia will face Portugal in the final with a World Cup berth on the line while Italy will not be in Qatar this winter.

The European qualifying process for the World Cup involves splitting up the 55 nations into ten groups. The winner of each of the ten groups automatically qualifies for the World Cup. The ten group runners-up along with the two best Nations League group winners are placed into three playoff paths, each consisting of four teams. They play semifinals and a final with the winner of each of the three paths qualifying.

North Macedonia and Italy were playing their semifinal. North Macedonia has never qualified for the World Cup, while Italy has now failed to qualify for a second straight cycle.