By earning a draw at the San Siro tonight, not only did Sweden book their place at next summer’s World Cup finals in Russia, they consigned Italy to a historic defeat, retired Gianluigi Buffon and sent Gian Piero Ventura packing.
Janne Anderson’s men couldn’t build on the 1-0 lead that they carried over from the first leg in Stockholm – which came courtesy of a Jakob Johansson goal – but that wasn’t required of them. They defended manfully and Robin Olsen entered a sturdy performance in the Swedish goal to hold Italy scoreless, preserving their slight but ever so significant aggregate lead.
It may not have been scintillating stuff, but it was enough.
Predictably, there were scenes of both sorrow and joy at the final whistle. While there were tears from many Italian players, including the great Buffon, the Swedes ran ecstatically amok. The players in blue eventually departed to lick their wounds in private but the Swedish celebrations continued, leading to an hilarious moment involving a pitch-side television set and some unfortunate analysts.
— Marc Jungermann (@MarcJungermann) November 13, 2017
While Italy missed out on qualification for the first time in sixty years, Sweden booked their first World Cup berth in a decade. Few neutrals would begrudge them their moment.