Less than eight months after celebrating their European Championship triumph following a thrilling final against England, Italy slipped on home soil in front of North Macedonia and lost every chance of playing at the World Cup in Qatar. Italy’s defeat in Palermo is one of the biggest shocks of the modern era in the European qualifiers.

North Macedonia
North Macedonia upset Italy and eliminated them from the World Cup playoffs. Trajkovski scored the only goal of the match in stoppage time. (Image: Twitter/euro2024)

Aleksandar Trajkovski netted in stoppage time to give minnows North Macedonia a totally unexpected 1-0 lead and, eventually, the victory. Trajkovski’s goal sent shockwaves throughout the world of football and left Italy in tears. Squadra Azzurra will not be at the World Cup for the second edition in a row, after also missing out in 2018. Back then, Sweden stood in their way in the playoffs.


Last summer, North Macedonia played their first-ever major tournament. They featured in the main round at Euro 2020, but finished at the bottom of their group behind the Netherlands, Austria, and Ukraine.

Their win against Italy puts them 90 minutes away from another huge match against Portugal on Tuesday. North Macedonia will travel again, this time to Porto.


Only one of the two teams will qualify for the World Cup in Qatar. Experts and fans alike expected Italy to cruise through to a much-anticipated playoff final with Portugal, who beat Turkey 3-1 to end their hopes to progress.